I’m trying to work out when the last time I had a really convincing Australia Day was. 2008 I was in still new in Sydney and really didn’t have a clue what was going on. I think 2007 I was in a car in Tasmania for most of it, but I can’t remember where we were driving to. 2006 must have been in either Brisbane or Adelaide and so monumental that I can’t remember it at all. I think I might have been at our Indooroopilly Unit, but everyone else was still on summer holidays. Whatever. I think 2005 was in Darwin. We all went down to Casuarina beach reserve for some cricket and a bbq. That was probably the last time Australia Day felt like I think it’s supposed to.
“And what of 2009?” I hear you ask. And when you think about it, the fact that I can hear you asking it as I sit here and type, before you’ve had chance to read the first paragraph, displays a remarkable level of precognitive ability.
Well, the first point to make is that they don’t celebrate Australia Day in Madrid. It was your average working Monday over here. That wasn’t such a big deal for me as I’m still trying to find more work. I only had one class to teach, so it was practically a day off for me anyway, but somehow it wasn’t the same without everyone else getting into it as well.
I tried to find out what the other Aussies I’ve met so far were up to. One of them was working and the other had her birthday on the 26th of January (how cool is that?), so she was off with friends for the day. So it was just me and my very patriotic green and gold jumper.
I went to make myself a vegemite sandwich for lunch only to discover that my vegemite was nowhere to be seen. Either some baggage handler along the way thought it looked like a nice treat (he’s in for a surprise) or I left it in a cupboard in Sydney.
I worked in the afternoon, teaching office workers about Australia Day and Chinese New Year, and asking them about their favourite celebrations. Apparently St. Isidro’s day in Madrid is the closest equivalent. He’s the local patron saint. The stupid woman had never even heard of cricket.
So far I wasn’t doing very well as far as iconic Australian celebrations went, but I decided I was going to try to carve it up anyway. I put on my drover’s coat and headed for the city. I was going to try the local custom of bar hopping and trying stuff from all over the place. The first bar I tried was staffed by rude grumpy old men. I think they were disgruntled at having to work on Australia Day. I didn’t stay there long. I had to walk for ages before I found another one that was open. So much for the famous Madrileño nightlife. Alright, it was Monday night, but that’s no excuse for being shut while there are Australians out and about. Alright, one Australian.
In the end I wound up at a pub around the corner from my house which advertises that it sells Fosters. I figured that seemed kind of appropriate; ending a rubbish Australia Day with a rubbish Australian beer. Unfortunately the bar seemed to be hosting some sort of darts club meeting. Everyone was watching a darts game, and the guy behind the bar was eating a hamburger, looking at me and trying to work out what I was doing there. I watched a couple of games and then left to go find myself some Spanish hot chocolate.
Unfortunately it was now half past ten, and everything was shut. Softest city in the world, apparently. So I took my drover’s coat home and went to bed. Oi oi freaking oi.
Far from home
Garry with 2 Rs
P.S. Blogger informs me that this is my 50th Far From Home post (raises bat to dressing room). Everyone loves a milestone.