Today is Australia Day, or at least it is back in Australia. In Scotland it’s just the day after Burns Night, or Monday, depending on how much you celebrate Burns Night. Classes at uni carried on as usual, people went to work, and the only people drinking in the pubs from midday were expats or travelers. There was no televised speech from the PM, no awards, no cricket. It was just another day.
I don’t know why, but I always thought that if I ever spent Australia day overseas I would get all patriotic and want to do ‘Australian’ things. Considering I’m not particularly patriotic at the best of times, I’m not sure why I thought this would be the case, but hey, we’re all entitled to some wishful thinking now and again aren’t we?
Don’t get me wrong, Australia is great, I’m just not one of those people who feels deeply connected to it. I can’t say “g’day” without sounding like an idiot (I’m not even joking…), I’m STILL not into cricket, I hate tomato sauce with a passion, I don’t drink (and when I do it’s not beer), and I’ve been called ‘un-Australian’ more times than I can count. If we’re being honest, I feel much more of a connection to the UK than I do to Australia, but that isn’t really the point. The closest I came to doing anything remotely ‘Australian’ was having Vegemite and cheese on crackers for lunch, but that was mostly influenced by the availability of food in my cupboard and knowledge that I really should eat something other than cornflakes, potatoes with paprika, and pesto pasta with avocado. And I do really like vegemite.
Did I miss having a BBQ outside in the ‘glorious’ Australian summer? Perhaps. Did I miss the Hottest 100. Not even a little bit (don’t even get me started). Did I miss the tension that still surrounds Australia Day? The arguments over whether January 26th is the appropriate date? The worry that someone might burn the flag, get into a fight, or just generally make a fool of themselves? Nope. I didn’t have an overwhelming urge to dress up in a flag, to find other Australians and share a sense of ‘mateship’, to sing my national anthem (if it was the Adam Hills version that would be a different story).
So what did I do on Australia Day, you ask? I ate pasta and watched Netflix after my lecture on Scottish Devolution.
Perhaps I’m just the odd one out, but being overseas didn’t make me any more patriotic on Australia Day.
All of that said, I am lucky to have been born in Australia. I’m lucky to live in a country where I can openly dislike the Prime Minister and many government policies without fearing for my life. I’m lucky to live in a country where the fact I’d sometimes rather live somewhere else isn’t a problem. I’m lucky to live in a country where being ‘un-Australian’ isn’t some sort of criminal offense. I’m lucky to live in a country where I don’t have to sing the national anthem or risk being arrested or shot.
I’m incredibly lucky to be Australian. But I know that every day of the year.
So, no matter how much I may badmouth Australia, wish I wasn’t automatically associated with Tony Abbot, prefer the Kiwis and the Scottish landscape, and want to get my British Passport, I guess I am proud to be Australian. Just a little, at least.
Happy Australia Day, mate.