Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A new strapline for Canberra

One of the alternative straplines* for Canberra I’ve been trying to encourage is, “Canberra - where the middle-class lost their manners”. It’s a touch more peppy than the Canberra Tourism and Events Corporation’s “See for yourself” tag, usually rendered in the sort of scribbly typeface that suggests the office manager has just bought new fonts for their iMac.

For a city that claims more university educated inhabitants as a percentage of the population than anywhere else in the country, Canberra, on the evidence of the roads and footpaths, is also home to many folk who don’t readily know left from right. Combine this with a steady state mantra of “I shall not be inconvenienced” and the ACT can resemble a movable bird hide, showcasing boorish behaviour by people who, as my peach-fuzz cheeked old grandmother used to say, ‘ought to bloody well know better’.

Case in point, Kingston last Friday afternoon. I’m stopped at the seat near the Vietnamese bakery to stow a bottle of Hanwood Chardonnay La Chablisienne Chablis into my bag and spot a middle-aged woman helping a frail, elderly woman, to cross Giles street. I spend some time duck diving into the bag, trying to make sure nothing gets squashed, when voices are raised.

A box-headed bloke in his early forties yells across the road at the women, who by this point are heading to the chemist, “And what does that have to do with you being an idiot!” At a guess I’d say Mr Box-head didn’t get the park he wanted.

The middle-aged woman continued to shepherd the old lady into the chemist and without a word, or a backward glance, deftly flips him the bird.
“Fucking moron!” bawls Boxy by way of reply, and then stomps into Artespresso... followed by a kid who looked about eight or nine years old and probably had the bad luck to be closely related to him.

I'd suggest the next time somebody complains to you about kids today or Gen Ys having no manners, you might point out some parents aren’t really setting the bar all that high. And if you do spot a dinky, bright red BMW, rego number YEW 27P, give the driver a big wave. He shouldn’t be too hard to spot - a cubist-style head, anger management issues and a complexion the same colour as his car.

*Along with the slogans Bill Bryson came up with in Down Under when he got pissed at the Rex: “Canberra - There’s Nothing to It!” and “Canberra - Why Wait for Death?”

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jess101things said...

Hi there,
Completely agree with the rudeness of Canberrrans. For a bunch of predominantly white, middle-class professionals they are surprisingly intolerant and rude.
Nice to find another Canberra blog btw.

our man in Canberra said...

Hi Jess,

Thanks for stopping by (and adding Notional to your blog roll - I'm in the process of fixing ours up so we can reciprocate).

The thing that really surprised me about this incident was how *angry* this guy became in the middle of quiet shopping strip. Clearly, the middle-aged woman was helping a frail, elderly relative to the chemist but that didn’t seem to bother him.

There were a few passersby, like myself, watching all this and wondering if he was going to take it further, and whether we’d have to get involved. We sort of exchanged looks - a bit like those hapless customers in the Armstrong and Miller Show vegetarian cafe sketch - as though to say “Oh no - it's kicking off, Pru!”.