Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Another F-C obsession

I'm rather fascinated by the thought of Australia in the Sixties. Any glimpses of Canberra, with its plethora of Sixties buildings, or old TV shows that feature it (yes, like Skippy), I can't get enough of.

When I was a child in the early 1970s, Australia seemed like a very, very long way away. We had various neighbours who emigrated there, and mum and dad even got brochures to see for themselves. I remember them looking at a place called Moomba City, which then looked like a pristine Milton Keynes, but now is probably plagued by underage drinkers and petty crime. We stayed put while others went. Some came back saying it wasn't for them. Others took to it at once and were never seen again.

When an Australian boy called Chris Smith joined our glass aged nine, we all gatherered round and fired questions along the lines of 'have you seen a shark?', 'is it upside down?' and 'do you have a koala bear as a pet?'. We were intrigued.

We really didn't know much about Australia at all before the 1988 bicentennial. We were into Neighbours, we tolerated Sons and Daughters and had some windows into Australia on our screens. But in 1988 is when it really hit the mainstream. Since then it's not looked back, but really before that on the whole it was an unknown quantity on the other side of the world.

I've never been to Australia, but I'd like to visit. I'm in no huge hurry, unless someone was to pay for me to go first class then I'd be there like a shot. I was once offered a job there (I worked for an Australian company), but they wanted me to make up my mind overnight. I'd never been, the money was rubbish, it's far, far away and I"m not great in hot weather. Plus, Mrs F-C at the time earnt more or less double what I earnt, and they said they'd find her 'a little job somewhere'. It wasn't going to happen.

I think to me the idea of preserving Australia in the Sixties or early Seventies is far more appealing than Australia today. People used to say Australia was 10 years behind the UK. I've never been sure if this is true - it's certainly not true now. But there's something about it being so remote, stark and detached from the rest of the world, doing it's own swinging in a sunbleached bleakness, a little bit British, a little bit American, a whole lot Australian, fascinated by the disappearance of the Beaumont children, all soundtracked by the likes of Russell Morris and The Masters Apprentices, that I find endlessly interesting.

Indulge me.


Roman Empress said...

I spent a year there at the end of the 90s. Before I arrived all I had go on was one Roeg film and some soaps. The cities are a different story but the small towns and unpopulated areas especially still felt like what I imagined as a child. There was even the odd cobber in a cork hat.

I had a Walkabout moment the other day. I was staring out of window while washing up, onto the ugly tower blocks where they film the 'Lou and Andy' scenes in Little Britain, but in my minds eye, I was swimming in a tea tree lake again, with one other friend, with no-one else in sight. It felt like the final scene in Walkabout, the one where JA is married now but she still remembers. Ah.

Cocktails said...

I'm sorry, F-C, but my impression of Australia in the 60s is absolutely hideous - conservative PM Menzies in power with his dream of white picket fences, rampant racism, huge cultural cringe (all the 'intellectuals' like Peter Conrad, Germaine Greer, Robert Hughes etc. left for the UK), involvement in pointless foreign wars, non-existent film industry and copy-cat musicians. I really don't find this at all appealing.

Now is much, much better. Not that I [cough] actually live there.

Have you seen 'They're a weird mob', one of the few Australian films from the 60s? It's interesting (and much better than Barry MacKenzie or Alvin Purple).

Five-Centres said...

No I haven't Cocktails, but I must. And you've shattered all my illusions...

Cocktails said...

Sorry, I feel a bit guilty now!