Saturday, February 7, 2009

Conversation starter

I live in Canberra. This simple phrase guarantees me conversation whenever I travel.

‘waste of a good sheep paddock’
‘nothing but roundabouts and public servants’
‘we’re subsidising you’
‘Australia’s most boring city’

You get the picture. Usually this stuff is served up by the sort of people who believe mild, parochial insults delivered in a slightly aggrieved, I’m-being-funny tone is witty.

I live in Canberra and one of the most enjoyable aspects of this is that absolutely no one expects you to love it here (you may have to move to Western Australia or Tasmania to fully appreciate how desperately some people need you to like where they live).

Lately, when the standard cliches come up I don’t even bother to try and change the subject. It’s far easier to agree and embellish.

Yes, it is shocking how in Canberra all our housing is fully subsidised and our rates are paid by syphoning off the GST.

Absolutely correct, public servants only work from 10am until 2pm with a two hour lunch break. And yes, there is a roster system where art works from the National Gallery of Australia are loaned out so locals can brighten up the family room. Bloody hard getting Blue Poles through the patio doors I can tell you.

That’s right, big-brained science grads from ANU are on tap to install our domestic PC networks and home cinemas, while the kids are au paired by exquisitely well-read MA students from the School of Arts, all free of charge.

You get the drift.

I live in Canberra and, just quietly between ourselves, I don’t mind it at all.

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Trish said...

Love it - the city and this post.

I know someone from Sydney who moved here very reluctantly for work. 12 months later he calls Canberra Australia's best kept secret and thinks we shouldn't argue with those who can't stand Canberra because if they all knew how good it was they'd all want to move here and that would ruin it for everyone.

our man in Canberra said...

Thanks Trish. I like the way your friend thinks. We came here with no real expectations and were won over in a matter of months.

The Ingredient Detective said...

I love it here, too. My only gripe is the cost of housing. The mortgage is just about sending us broke. How can I get me some of that GST money syphoned into my mortgage...?

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