Australia Day: UK Style

Imagine, if you will, a bright sunny day in London (there are actually more of them in London than anyone will concede) and the local Walkabout (Aussie pub) is so jam-packed full of 20-28 year old Australians that they have spilled on to the street. People are wearing Aussie face paint and impromptu scarves made from the Australian flag. Aussie girls are wearing Akubra hats and green and gold tank tops, in spite of the fact that it’s actually only 10° Celsius, and all are carrying British-style cans (a full pint, rather than the usual Aussie can measuring less than 600ml) of Fosters beer. Aussie accents are fair dinkum everywhere.

Those of us belonging to a slightly more mature age group are clearly struggling. The old Australian urge to be ocker and proudly sing our nation’s anthem (Men at Work’s ‘We Come From A Land Downunder’, not ‘Advance Australia Fair’) is tugging at the gut. Or perhaps that’s just the beer. But we are trying to appear a litle more civilised, whilst also being part of the festivities, proud to be Australian, yet distinctly embarrassed by the antics of the younger set.

Eventually it dawns on us: there are people outside who don’t know or care that it is Australia Day. It’s just that Australians apparently outnumber them. I will say it again: there are far too many Australians in London. In fact there are – at the last count – more than 200,000 Australians (or 1% of the entire Australian population) in London at any one point of time. Given the population of London is about 12 million, that means that at any point of time, Australians represent between 1.5% and 2% of London’s population.

Oh dear. But even so, I am celebrating today because when it comes down to it, I am and always will be proud to be Australian. Happy Australia Day everyone. And Londoners – please just avert your eyes from the young Australians today!

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