There is a communal sighing of relief washing all over Australia . Work has started and routine is returning. People are happy again. It is odd how we yearn for variety and change of routine, yet always welcome a return to normality. There is nothing as life-confirming as everyday habits while performing household duties. I suppose, all the extra dishes have now been washed and the last of the bottles put out for re-cycling. We are all relishing a return to the familiar. We enjoy being bored but are just not honest enough to admit except to our most intimate friends under the cover of darkness or an umbrella during day time.
New Year’s day was totally absent of any public expression of joy. Not a celebration in sight. All shops were closed. Even the coffee bars were shut. Some tourists were aimlessly walking around looking for a celebration. Several with strong European accents asked us where they could get a coffee. “No, not here in Bowral, but the Fish and Chip shop is open, try there you might get an instant Nescafé.” Bowral on New Year’s day looked like a post-apocalyptic scene out of the novel ‘On the Beach’, by Neville Shute. I remember when each time we arrived back in Australia by boat it would be on a Sunday in Fremantle. Not a soul to be seen on the streets. The first time back in 1956, before the book was even written
At one stage we had foreign students living with us in inner city suburb of Balmain. They were mainly from Asian countries. Inevitably they would ask us; “where are the people?” They missed people around on the streets more than anything.
I think Australia might have to try a bit harder in the field of public celebrations and joy in attracting tourism. Sure, the fireworks in Sydney and other places were magnificent on New Year’s Eve. Overall, it seems that the Christmas season celebrations are mainly a private affair. A family get together rather than a public event. Our cities don’t seem to have the density required for people to come out in the open in throngs like they do in Amsterdam, Paris or Hong Kong. We live too spread out from each other and with our love for privacy don’t care much for a display of abandoning all our inhibitions, except when we get drunk. Even then we are more likely to bash than to embrace.
A report has come out stating that our economic model of consuming by soaking up our yearly GDP is becoming more and more unstuck. It seems we have reached a level of saturation. There is only so much we can shove in our cupboards and wardrobes or have enough power points to plug in electronic gadgetry.
Well, the pensioners will certainly give a helping hand in non-consuming, seeing the government has targeted billions to be saved from cutting pensions or by lowering them. The money saved will be used to give tax breaks to business and the wealthy. We also have this senator advising that pensioners should be ashamed of being a pensioner. Pensioners ought to feel they have failed seems to be his message.
We should all pull together and show shame. Be proud of your shame.