This is where I had my lunch yesterday…

Beach

 

And this is what I had for lunch:

Fish and chips

Crumbed cod, potato scallops and salad to make us all feel better.  It was amazing.  I don’t want to gloat too much (oh, who am I kidding) – check this out!:

Beach

Let me paint you a picture – blue skies, cerulean ocean, gentle waves, pristine white sand, the sticky smell of sunscreen, the lapping of the water and gentle whoosh of the waves.  Paradise.

My only goal for the day (asides from stuffing my face with fish) was to wrinkle in the sea.  The most energetic thing I did (again, asides from stuffing my face) was a gentle stroll along the beach.  Paradise.

Despite the heat (we’re sweltering in a mini-heat wave over here), the beach was busy but not packed – plenty of room for everybody.  The sea was gentle so the lifeguards were kicking back and relaxing, some Nippers were training and enjoying being in the sun, while the surfers tried to make the best of what little waves there were.  Families were in the park, barbecuing up sausages and steaks.  Little ones were paddling in the shallows with their parents, getting to know what will become an integral part of their life: the beach.

Australians don’t have the market cornered when it comes to fabulous beaches but it does play a huge role in our lives and our psyches.  There is a cultural trope in Australia about the ‘Aussie battler’ and outback living – a vestige of our past that we treasure but which no longer reflects the lives of most Australians who now live in or near a major city.  We have no farming heartland like America does – we’re the same size as the continental US but most of the Australian interior is desert, so most Australians (along with most of our capital cities) live along the coast.  The beach and the water flows through our veins.

I can’t remember the first time I was at a beach: it’s always been there.  We live it, love it and breathe it.  We holiday there, we celebrate there and we while away countless hours there.  And on days like yesterday, it’s a wrench to tear myself away from there.

beach 2

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It’s election day in America…

…and, on behalf of the rest of the world, we can’t wait until it’s over!  Even here in Australia, every bulletin update is on Romney this or Obama that.  We have news specials on it.  60-minutes style reports on it with Australian reporters traipsing across the wilds of backhills Florida trying to get the pulse of the people.

It’s not just been in the last couple of months as you build up to the election.  No, no, we Australians have been right there with you from the caucuses (caucusii?), to the Republican party Presidential nominee announcement and to binder-gate (since I’m a nerd, my favourite binder meme was this one):

Image

It cracks me up every time.  Sean Bean is brilliant.  But I digress…

It’s not just us Aussies – I’ve been in the UK for over 4 years and the election has been heavily covered there too.

The world is watching every minute detail of this election and, frankly, I think we’re all sick to death of it. I can’t imagine what it’s been like for Americans.

I guess the reason why a national election is international news is due to America’s huge influence on the world.  And George W. Bush was so colossally bad that, since then, everyone has been extra-invested in having a relatively normal human being with his finger on the trigger, so to speak (by contrast, in Australia the only criteria we have is that our prime ministers try not to bore everyone to death).

As an Australian, I can also see the immense cultural influence America has had on Australia.  Our TV dramas and comedies are about 60% US-origin, 20% Australian and 20% British.  On the music charts, I’d say songs by American artists make up at least 40-50%, with Australian artists making up another 40% and the rest British.  Australian slang has not been unaffected either, although this is an area where American cultural influence has not been as strong.  I’ll say truck, not lorry (America 1, England 0) but then I’ll also say lift not elevator (England 1).  I’m also proud to say that slang unique to Australia is doing very well (dag, togs, refedex…).

What makes this more interesting to me is seeing how different the influence has been on British culture (which then leads me to ponder why).  If you get free-to-air TV in the UK, you’ll see very little in the way of US programs (exception being 5 USA, which specialises in it).  American slang has had very little impact on British slang – in fact, it’s a point of principle amongst Britons to avoid any vulgar “Americanisms” and, culturally, Jordan/Katie Price and WAGs have more impact on young British youth today than anything America has to offer.  In fact, the only piece of American culture British youths seem to have latched on to is gang culture, a deeply unfortunate turn of events.

I’m not sure why modern Australia seems to have been more influenced, culturally, by America rather than England.  We’re an ex-British colony, we still have the Queen as a head of state, the majority of Australians have British ancestry (although that’s quickly changing).  Until about the 1980s it was true that Australia was very much a ‘little Britain’ (excuse the pun).  Then, suddenly, it changed over night.  Maybe MTV had something to do with it.

So now we’re an odd mix here in Australia.  US customs and culture (Halloween is getting more popular every year, although we carve watermelons here rather than pumpkins given the season) sit with remnants of British culture (I still think it’s a majority of Australians who have a hot roast meal at Christmas, even though it’s 35 degrees outside… we just supplement it with cold glazed ham and prawns) and that rests in a melting pot with the ever-growing contributions of migrant communities.  In fact, as time goes on, I can see Australia is slowly turning more to Asia: economically, they’re a major purchaser of Australian goods, culturally they’ve transformed Australian cuisine (Asian fusion is something Australians specialise in) and demographically, Asian Australians form a significant part of the population.  Maybe it will be a Firefly future after all?