Monday, 28 April 2008

Home, Bitter-Sweet Home

April saw me back in Australia for one whole week! I don't recommend spending over 2 days in transit for less than 10 days at the destination... the cost-benefit just isn't worth it. But when Nath tells you, er I mean, invites you to be best man at his wedding, you can't really say no.

The week back home was one of the most hectic of my life: I managed to squeeze in a road trip to Canberra to get my shiny new HSMP visa (haha! take that British Immigration Authority!), a visit to Mackeral to discover some new form of middle class low life had stolen the rigging from the hobie (lousy yachting bum! or hobie hobo, if you will), a horror visit to the RTA where I finally got my full licence (look out road users!), an ANZAC day pub crawl (hello sailor!) and long enough with my family to have a huge falling out. Oh, and a I think there was a wedding in there somewhere.

Apart from the bad bits, it was great being back in Sydney. I didn't really suffer the reverse culture shock that people had warned me about, I didn't pay enough attention to my receipts to notice if things were much more expensive than I remembered them, and I didn't get ridiculed for having a pommie accent (okay, once). There was actually a part of me wishing I'd been refused the visa so that I could stay... On the other hand, it was good getting back to London where I have a bed and can just veg out.

Anyway I just want to say a huge thanks to Nath and Dyalan for helping me out during the week, an even huger congratulations to Nath and Emma, and a massive thanks to everyone who came out at such short notice to drinks on the Sunday - I'm sorry I didn't get to sit and chat with everyone in full, but it was great to drink some good beer in good company. I'll be around longer next time, I promise.

Mark's telegram for Nath and Emma - UNCENSORED

For those who know Mark, they would have been able to tell that the telegram from him I read had been censored for public consumption. Here it is in its full glory...

Hello Nathan and Emma, congratulations. From the first moment I saw you two together, although I was busy throwing Oporto chips at cars, I could tell it was love. You complement eachother so well, Emma is bright, full of life and has great taste in music, Nathan has... well.. (Pause) great friends like me! Although I can't be there today I feel like the spirit of the occasion is inside of me, much like Nathan was inside of me many times before you met.

And no thanks to Jono for finding this xkcd gem of a wedding toast after the event. I would have used it, I swear.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Much needed updates

I'm finally getting around to documenting my travels from the end of 2007, and will post them with historic dates, so scroll down if you want to see why I now love the rat race, and hear about my attempts at surfing.

I promise to write more often from now on. No, really...

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Kevin 07 at LSE

So it seems my conversion to political nerd and hack continues... I heard Kevin Rudd was giving a lecture at LSE and decided I just had to go. Sad, I know. Not that easy it turns out, since over 1000 people applied for tickets within minutes of it opening, which puts Kevin up there with major rock bands in terms of ticket interest! At least he's a celebrity for being successful in the political arena, rather than vice versa.

Anyway, thanks to Rach I was able to attend and actually see the man whose name I wore in XXL pride last year, and who made so many people in a dodgy Wetherspoon pub deliriously happy one Sunday morning. The speech itself was as expected: talking about his policy agenda and how it ties in with the UK's, interspersed with some occasional Pom bashing (which was lapped up by the adoring 99% Aussie audience).

The themes of the speech that I found interesting were his acceptance of globalisation, and plan for 'middle-power democracy'. Clearly, governments can no longer ignore the global climate (whether it be in the arena of security, economics, or the environment, which he did note are not distinct areas any more), but it sounds like he may be biting off a bit more than little ol' Australia can handle. Solving climate change, fixing Afghanistan, combating terrorism... all worthy goals, but it sounds like Kim Beazley might be right (Rudd's pace can't be maintained: Beazley SMH 8 Apr 2008) - Kevin seems to be spreading himself too thin, and it might lead to mistakes (he did refer to the United Kingdom as the United States at least once during the lecture). On the other hand, it's good to see a leader who has aims and ambitions go beyond keeping the electorate happy until the next election.

The idea of Australia exerting 'middle power diplomacy' is an interesting idea. Without a roaring economy or rampaging defence force, it's hard to imagine people taking notice of what Australia has to say. But as Rudd points out, Australia is well placed to act as a 'knowledge broker' between the waning powers of the west, and the rising powers of the orient. There should be someone to provide advice on the growing pains of development, and perhaps a non-threatening voice with no real power agenda of its own is more likely to be appreciated than the 'bullying voice of western powers trying to cling to their position.' Whether or not Australia has the skills or people to manage such a relationship is another matter.

It looks like Rudd, and the Australia he now leads, are signing up for some Herculean tasks. It's good to have worthy goals, but I hope he, and Australia, haven't bitten off more than they can chew.