lunedì, settembre 21, 2015

How to become Australian

I''m officially Australian now. I think I may have written before about my mixed emotions over becoming one, but the longer I'm out of Australia and the more my exposure to Australians is limited to expatriates, the less weird I feel about it. And on the darkest moral level of the subject, I realize I had already fully sold myself to a genocidal state structure by buying a house and earning a shitload of money there. The ceremony was just an admission.

Anyways, it was a fascinating experience. There were two other women swearing in, who I liked, whose income and age bracket were similar to mine; I assume their motivations were at least a little similar to mine too, based on the chats during the coffee-and-cookies (pardon me very fucking much, biscuits) after the ceremony. None of us had real plans to go back to Australia. One of them had also made the decision to leave God out of the proceedings and the other was annoyed that she hadn't realized that was an option.

Neither I nor the other two ladies citizening had practiced or even, apparently, heard the national anthem - "Advance Australia Fair" - ahead of time, which was rough as we had to sing it. And the established Australian guests weren't much help either. I think I have never admired a civil servant quite as much as I admired the ambassadorial staffer (a man about a decade younger than me) who had conducted the ceremony - he manfully (I rarely use that adjective in a complimentary fashion, but today I do) led the singing at a discreetly loud volume a note or two ahead of the rest of us to cover up for our complete incompetence.

Nevertheless I had a really hard time not bursting into laughter, both because being part of a room full of people pretending you know a song is one of the funniest things in the fucking universe, and because I was picturing the ambassadorial staffer at ambassador school, learning how to lead the national anthem a note or two ahead to cover up for all the Australians, fresh and established, who didn't know their own national anthem and were pretending they did. If it was "Waltzing Matilda" I - and I expect all of us - could have done better.

Godzilla was the only child there but it was a family friendly event; he was allowed to sit on my knee in the front row while I waited to pledge and he behaved himself. Mostly.

I'm quite hard-boiled about these nationalistic things but I found the ceremony a moving experience. I was partly set up to be moved this particular week, of course, by Tony Abbott being removed from government by his own party. The Coalition is the Coalition, and Malcolm Turnbull, for all his charm, is just another right-wing profiteer. (Pretty much.) But years ago - like, 2008 or something - when we decided to move to Australia, I was pleased about moving to a country whose major parties featured leaders who could express real policy decisions outside of monosyllables. Malcolm Turnbull was one of those leaders. So I can't help but be glad that he's back, especially since Tony Abbott as my national leader would have been personally embarassing.

Anyways, the F-word took pictures of the ceremony, and one of them is of me, framed by a big empty space on the wall where Tony Abbott's photo used to be, and where his replacement hasn't been put up yet. Sometimes it is schadenfreudelicious to be part of history.

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