AUSTRALIA – you’re standing in it.

I willingly acknowledge that I shall never hit the poetic heights of Dave Warner. I accept there will only ever be one True Larrikin Shane Warne, and that I am not he. I also confess that I am writing these few lines because I am supposed to be writing a job application, which is also an acknowledgement that I have not hit the heights of [insert name of self-made billionaire here]. I am a creature of habit and habits, and given that day has come round yet again, here is my alleged poem yet again, with the same introduction as before …

Today is Australia Day. You can tell by all of the people walking around dressed in Australian flags. Otherwise, you might not know that it is Australia Day, or that you are in Australia. And you wouldn’t want to make a mistake about that, there could be consequences. I still remember when Australia Day was a dusty little public holiday tucked away towards the back of the summer pack, hey a day off, thank you very much. Now it is a thing. Not unlike a sad party thing. So here is an alleged poem, for Australia Day.

FLAG DAY

It was Flag Day

so we wrapped ourselves in our flags

and went to the pub.

What a jape! What a crack-up!

Everybody else had the same idea, but.

Those bastards.

All the flags were the same

because we are all Flaglanders.

It would have been nice to wrap myself

in the flag of difference

but I was too scared.

Everyone looked the same.

The fun idea had become

A Sad Party Thing.

It doesn’t matter.

The flag unites us.

Our fear of looking different unites us.

All eyes are wary on Flag Day.

Everyone smiles with their mouths

as they lift their beers,

but all those eyes are looking about.

And those eyes are quick.

My oath.

You don’t want to stand out.

Not on Flag Day.

Do the Right Thing.

Say the Right Thing.

Think the Right Thing – it makes the other two easier.

There are no excuses.

It is not “I pay my taxes” day.

It is not “I am a human being, I have rights” day.

It is fucking Flag Day.

Alright?

You sad party thing.

….

Many many years ago I was pushing a pram on Australia Day in Sydney, along the Darling Harbour foreshore. It had been a nice day out, the kids had a good time, but they were young, and the sun had tired all of us. Now we just wanted to get home. No doubt I did not have the right look upon my face. I was not suitably embracing the patriotic fervour.

Two young women stepped up to me, in bikini tops bearing the Australian flag, holding beers in their hand. They would fix me!

“Smile!” one of them commanded. “It’s Australia Day”.

My tiredness provoked me. It also slowed me. I didn’t quite get the cutting comment out. Then I noticed them, lurking behind in the shadow of some (appropriately Australian native) bushes. Burly blokes in singlets, obviously with the girls. Sharks waiting.

As I paused, my wife slowed by our toddlers, caught up. The words died in my mouth. We ignored them and kept walking.

I have little doubt that later in the day, charged by a few more beers, the sharks would not even have needed the excuse of someone backchatting the young women. It would have been on, regardless.

Australia Day.

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