I truly love this country of ours. For me, living in Sydney, it's Bondi. The harbour. The Opera House. The cafes. The parks. The restaurants.
On a macro level, it's universal health care. Our welfare system. The abundance of food. Strict gun laws. Excellent public schools. Multiculturalism. Our entrenched sense of fairness.
I love Australia. And yet, in many ways I am unAustralian. And today, with 364 days to go till the next Australia day, I shall confess all the reasons why:
- I don't like pavlova. This is partly because I don't like meringe, partly because I don't like passionfruit, and partly because of a deeply entrenched belief that dessert is not dessert unless it is chocolate.
- I don't use the term 'mate'. Ever. (Except in reference to Prince's ex-wife, and I'm not even sure I got the pronunciation right.) I've tried to call people 'mate' - it just seems like the culturally appropriate thing to do - but it comes out all forced and twisted, like when you bump into an ex-teacher and try to call them by their first name. So I generally use people's real names, and if I forget them, I just stammer and look anxiously for the nearest exit.
- I've never said G'day. Again, just doesn't roll off my tongue. I say 'Hello', 'Hi', 'Hey', 'Shalom' and 'Bonjour' (I am nothing if not multi-lingual), but never, ever G'day. I should probably expand my repetoire, though. Ni Hao, anyone?
- I don't drink beer. In fact, I think beer tastes like carbonated wee wee. Of course, I've never actually tasted carbonated wee wee - in fact, I've never tasted wee wee at all* - but I believe that if I did, it would taste exactly like beer.
- I have never owned a Hills Hoist and I never plan to. I think they're ugly. Still, this is better than my friend Cate, who once owned a Hills hoist and took it down. Better to have never owned, I say, than to own and throw away.
- I have never watched 'Home And Away'. I've never even watched a commercial for it. Does Kate Ritchie play a policewoman?
- I didn't like 'Strictly Ballroom'. I know I was supposed to, and I was very glad that other people did, and I fully support the Australian film industry...but I just thought it was boring.
- I don't own tracksuit pants. Never have. Never will.
- I love Vegemite. I eat it every day. I love it with butter. I love it with cheese. I love it with peanut butter. I love it on toast. I love it in sandwiches. And I love it on a knife, or a spoon, or licked from my fingers when no-one is watching. I think Vegemite deserves its own place on the Healthy Foods Pyramid. Best food invention EVER.
- I call people 'luv'. It's not 'mate', but I can't see people in Italy or Pakistan using it, so I will claim it as a purely Australian term.
- I wear thongs on my feet. The little slip of fabric under my jeans is called a 'G-string'. And the thing I carry around with me is a 'mobile phone'. A cell is something you're locked in in prison.
- I watched the early years of Neighbours religiously. Scott and Charlene's wedding was one of the highlights of my television viewing life. And my earliest ambition was to be one of the Young Talent Team. This was hindered by the fact that I couldn't sing or dance, but hey, you've got to have a dream.
- My favourite film as a teen was 'Puberty Blues'. It reflected my life exactly (except that I was a flat-chested virgin who'd never been in a panel van).
- I own Ugg boots. I wear them all the time. They make me feel like I am walking on a cloud of fluff. Probably because they make me walk on a cloud of fluff.
- I love Simon Baker. He's Australian. Enough said.