26th January: time for a public holiday, a barbecue and a day at the beach. Oh, wait....where am I? As this year's 'Australia Day' dawned, my first as an ex-pat, I did the right thing and had toast and Vegemite for breakfast. Not only was it an extremely patriotic thing to do (we skim lightly over the fact that the iconic black yeast spread is made by a multi-national company), I also like it. They do say that one must be brought up to Vegemite, it is not a taste easily acquired (although I do know a Polish Antarctic Base veteran who loves the stuff, having been stuck on an Arctic ship which had a large supply of it.) (Hi, Mikolaj!)
|The Australia Shop: essential supplies|
Calling all expats: get your thongs on, paint your faces and wave your flags. On Sunday 23 January, Infernos will play host to the day-long annual TNT Australia Day Party, featuring everything from Jumbuck’s pies to Aussie beer, DJ entertainment and Bogan Bingo. Come dressed as your favourite Aussie celebrity and you could win an On The Go Anzac Digger tour to Gallipoli.
My purchases at The Australia Shop today.
It is reported that there are 600,000 ex-pat Australians in London these days. Isn't that as much as the population of Adelaide? (Just joking...) I picked up copy of a weekly paper called 'Australian Times', which reports on the conferring of the ex-pats' own Australia Day Honours. We confer, apparently, an 'Australian of the Year in the UK' (Stuart Devlin, a goldsmith - how interesting); a 'Young Australian Achiever of the year in the UK' (Tim Minchin); and - wait for it - 'Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK'. This one is for (and I quote) 'non-Australian residents of the UK who display 'Australian characteristics' or who have contributed significantly to Australia'. Who makes this stuff up? Aren't there enough potential award-ees amongst 600,00 to find three of our own people? Nevertheless, I don't want to denigrate the recipient, who has the divine name of Alistair Goodlad. Actually, he's 'Lord Goodlad', which is even better; and he is a former UK High Commissioner to Australia who, it seems, has maintained close ties with the country since he returned from his post. The paper doesn't mention what, if any, 'Australian characteristics' he may have developed.
The Redback Tavern in High St, Acton has been open since 11 am, with free t-shirts, free BBQ, Triple J music and - of course - pies. Belushi's ('venues all over town') are running 'Occa of the Year Awards', with 'plenty of Bundy rum'. betcha Lord Goodlad doesn't win that one. Waxy O'Connor's in Leicester Square is celebrating Australia Day 'due to popular demand from their antipodean customers'. Beer, pies and Triple J again. The King's Arm's in New King's Road has a similar approach and invites us to 'come and sizzle a sausage on the bbq'. (As all true Aussie will know, that is a mis-quote, but their heart is presumably in the right place). There's a "Big Day Out" (only smaller) kind of music festival going on today and tomorrow at Shepherds Bush Green, called Walkabout. But The Underdog in Clapham Common has a surf simulator! I think they win.
Happy Australia Day!