A little less than a century ago, the Australians realised they didn’t have a proper country and decided to set up a centralised government.
Both Sydney and Melbourne wanted to be the capital city. Which is fair enough; either would have made an obvious choice, and although I’m pretty sure Sydney had the more legitimate claim (even before the opera house was built), Melbourne has been mentioned more in Neighbours.
Instead of drawing the names out of a hat, however, or just pragmatically making the obvious decision (as I did in the above paragraph), the Australians decided to build a completely new capital city and avoid argument.
Which is why the capital city of Australia, the sterile area known as Canberra, basically resembles what Milton Keynes would look like if it had a lot more open spaces. And believe me, the open spaces are a bad thing – they mean that if you want to pop over to the corner shop for some milk it takes you the best part of the morning.
Alastair compares the scenario to two children arguing over a bag of sweets, and having the sweets taken from them altogether and thrown into a toilet.
Except that I can’t help feeling the Australians would put a positive spin on this – “oh yeah mate,” they’d enthusiastically say, “now that those sweets are in the dunny, everyone can have one!”
Because they take this attitude towards everything. Take, for example, the Ashes. We won the Ashes last year, we currently hold them, we are the ones who should be gloating. But every time the subject is broached, some Australian will chuckle with genuine pleasure and quip “yeah, don’t be too sorry when we win the Ashes back later this year, mate!”
They’re right, of course, that they will win the Ashes back later this year. But that’s not the point. Somehow they’ve taken our victory – our one victory in however many decades it has been – and turned it against us.
And being English, we all just laugh nervously and say, “oh…you!”
Instead of which we ought to be responding, “at least our captial city doesn’t look like Milton Keynes.”
But I doubt they’d get the reference.