Living overseas is the best way to assert your patriotism. Trust me. I don’t feel more proud to be an Aussie than when watching one of our sporting team/heroes defeat the English. Or anyone else, really, but particularly the English ;-)
With the Ashes about to start, the rugby on at the mo, and regular talk about the 2012 Olympics in London, I’m constantly reminded about the old colonial fracas, the British versus the Australians. And I can tell you that I have remainded faithful, even to the extent of barracking for anyone but England in the World Cup (just like the Scottish do). And lately, it’s been easy. (Even though the Wallabies lost to Ireland, we didn’t lose to England, and I don’t mind the Irish winning – they’re a lovely people and there’s nothing nasty about their teasing :-) I’ve just had to check in everyone once in a while with the newspapers in Oz for proof. Like the Brit cricket team crumbling dismally to the Prime Ministers XI (!!), despite sending their players to our Rod Marsh Cricket Academy! And with the Ashes due to start tomorrow, Australia couldn’t really be in a better position, no matter what UK news is saying. Coming off the back of our ICC Champions Trophy win we’re primed and ready to win back the Ashes on home soil. The Brits are having trouble beating our State teams!
And our Olympic record is also damn fine. We’ve outclassed everyone in the pool for ages, though being an island nation that’s understandable. And even though Ian (Thorpedo) Thorpe is retiring at just 24 years of age, and good luck to him, I can’t help but wonder who’s next to take the superfish mantle. We’ve done pretty well on track & field, having some shining lights in easy recall, and we’ve even covered the (slightly) abstract sports. For a nation with only (approx) 26 million people, we’ve got a bloody brilliant sporting record.
But Britain is an island too. Sure, the water’s a bit colder and murkier, but that’s why there are so many indoor pools. :-) Kids learn swimming in school, unlike Oz, and most schools have access to a pool. Here there’s the British seaside spirit – the one that makes families go to the coast on the coldest and most depressing days, and even swim in the freezing water! So why aren’t there (m)any British superfish?
Why is Australia such a sporting nation? The question is, is it any wonder we’re a sporting nation?
Oz was/is a fabulous place to grow up. We’d get up in the morning, and disappear until dark, perhaps stopping in to grab something to eat at some point (with 3 or four other kids in tow) . We’d get covered in dirt, get wet, get sunburnt… We’d go looking for tadpoles in the local creek, and get wet and muddy from slipping on the rocks. We’d go off on the bikes, and come home with gravel rash or worse from the local BMX track. We were incredibly independent, wore one set of clothes per day (that were usually in a shocking state when we got home), knew our neighbourhoods so well that we could hide for weeks… Everyone spent as much time outside as possible – inside was for when it was too dark to see without torches. Inside was for when you got hungry.
And it’s not that there wasn’t computers or computer games – or that inside held no attraction. When I was growing up, our house was the magnet for the kids in the street. Not only were there 4 kids in our house, but we had a pool, a pool table, dartboard (and when you’re young nothing is more fun that throwing sharp things!), an Atari game system, pets, walls and trees to climb…
Why is Oz such a fantastic place to be a kid? It can’t be as simple as the weather, can it? The sun shining can’t make THAT much of a difference?
There’s a big BIG push here at the moment to get kids playing sport. As well as the London Olympics there’s the child obesity thing – which is a big problem here. But one thing I’ve noticed is that kids growing up here have nothing to do. It’s just like country towns in Australia with no entertainment for the young – there’s just not much for kids to do here. Even less if you don’t live & breathe soccer. So they either go off the rails, start mucking up, drinking, vandalism, bad attitudes and no respect for anything – or they sit inside all day playing computer games, wathcing TV and eating. And I don’t care what anyone says, my generation just didn’t do that. We always had SOMETHING to do. We’d find something! Anything to avoid being stuck inside!
And it seems to be a uniquely British problem – you don’t hear about the number of scary teenagers in Sweden, or that teen alcoholism is on the rise in Belgium. But almost every day there is a new story about wayward British teens, how Anti-Social Behaviour Orders aren’t working, how shopping centres have banned hodded tops and anyone wearing one will be immediately ejected from the centre, how Britain has the highest incidence of teenage pregnancy in Europe…
It can’t be just the weather. It’s crappy, but one thing I noticed fairly quickly when I came here was the fact that there’s nothing for the kids to do until they’re old enough to get into the pub. That Britain is an alcohol culture, pure and simple.
But again, there MUST be another reason than simply the sun shining.
But given all that, all it’s problems, I still like living here. *shrug* Go figure. :-) But that doesn’t mean that I prefer Britain to Oz. I’ll always be Australian and it will always be home to me. Just the smell of the eucalypts when you step out of the airport, and the quality of the sun… *sigh* But I like living here at the moment. I’m not done yet, and I’ll come home when I’m done.
Anyway, rant ends. I’ll put my soapbox away for a while :-)