We had a very pleasant Australia Day, getting up late and then going to a pleasant restaurant for a family lunch - our small family was strengthened by Catherine's return from the UK for a brief holiday and weakened by Andrew's absence in Japan on a ski-ing plus other things holiday with his friends from school days. The RAAF was courteous enough to perform one of their fly by and zoom ups in full view of our table and the food and wine were very enjoyable. And that was as 'patriotic' as we got - probably like many other people who inhabit this country.
I have been very grateful to 'Australia' since I arrived here before my 18th birthday totally on my own (not knowing a living, or dead, soul). My gratitude was for the teenage girls on Maroubra beach, the constant sun shine and the large and amazingly diverse number of people who were kind to me as I adjusted from being a spoiled brat from an elitist English public school to something that eventually resembled a contributing member of the areas in which I lived - that took a while. Being a sole migrant at an incredibly young age is not the easiest way of completing your teen age years but it was made possible by a benign country and many very kind Australians. I don't "Love my country" in that nauseatingly expressed American way - firstly because even after all these decades it can never be "my" country....despite my constant traveling and almost 50 years of living in Australia - England, that part of it past Junction 18 on the M4 to before you hit the Devon border will always be where my 'body and soul' yearns to be. But Australia has been, since those first days of total bewilderment, always the country I have recognised and understood I owe a great deal to.
For a male, I grew up at quite a young physical age - for me it was a little after my 40th birthday. I attribute that early 'maturing' to a variety of positive and negative factors and experiences which aren't worth enumerating but they coincided with my decision that I should stop working for large multi-national companies whose only interest was in taking as much money out of the country as possible and try to apply my very limited array of knowledge and abilities to 'giving something back' to the country that had been so kind to me. So I began the process of trying to earn as much money as I had been used to receiving from large US employers and one Japanese employer but doing something that would make a positive contribution. I almost succeeded at least twice in making some ongoing positive contributions to the people who bought the products and services I was instrumental in proving before my hubris and incompetence caused those ventures to fail. I wish I could say I learned from those first mistakes but I don't think I did - age eventually did that.
Some eight years ago I decided to try to return some value to all the kindness and good fortune I have benefited from over the previous 40ish years and, with Steve and Annette, I became part of creating Exetel. This was/is to be my last attempt at delivering some value to the country that has been so kind to me for almost five decades - before what remains of what I have been told was once a first class mind turns to mush - if it will in fact last that long. If this doesn't work out well enough to achieve that minor goal then at least I did try to do something "for Australia" rather than simply accept inordinate sums of money from international paymasters to financially rape and loot the Australian people (which I unthinkingly did for many years).
So - I hope everyone had a happy Australia day - perhaps we could all make some sort of contribution to making this country as generous and helpful to new comers as it was to me almost 50 years ago....who knows - when they eventually stop speaking with their funny accent and eating their odd food, if they ever do, they might even make a contribution to making the country even better than they found it...if not, then I am pretty sure their children will.....or perhaps their grand children.