Today is Australia Day, a time for my countrymen to gather around meat and reflect on all things Aussie. On the arrival of the British in 1788, when they founded our great country by straight up stealing a bunch of land and inadvertently wiping out half the indigenous population with their fancy imported diseases. Or on all our global exports since then – the tank, say, or the dual-flush toilet, or the Iggy Azalea.
As an Australian living and working in London, I also have something else to (tentatively) celebrate: late last year, Boris Johnson suggested that the UK establish a bilateral visa agreement with Australia, which would allow people like me to live and work here for as long as we want, without access to welfare, and vice-versa for British citizens wanting to do the same down under.
This essentially means it would be easier than ever for Australians to fly over to London, expand the Antipodean caliphate outwards from Shepherd's Bush and finally get Golden Gaytime stocked alongside all your mediocre British ice cream. It would also mean you lot could freely head down south to continue working on farms and bankrupting yourself on SPF 50 sun cream.
"Oh no!" I hear you moan. "More Aussies coming over here to spend their entire time getting drunk, boring me with cricket anecdotes and trying to get me to laugh on public transport." And that's because you're a horrible bigot; Australia has contributed far more to the UK than loud, shit banter and uncomfortable bus journeys, and it's about time the British population at large grasped that.
So here, today, on Australia Day, I've listed some of the stuff (good and bad) we've given you.
AUSSIE RULES FOOTBALL
Granted, this hasn't made a huge splash in the UK quite yet – or, really, anywhere outside of a few select states in Australia. But it is occasionally shown in pubs over here, meaning there has to be some kind of audience for it.
I'd imagine that audience is mostly Australian ex-pats, but there's a chance it's rounded out by those lone wolves who pointedly got into weird fringe stuff (NFL, wake boarding, the electric double bass) at secondary school and now need to escalate to something even more niche to compensate for their poor interpersonal skills. Those guys and the underclass of people whose gambling problems are so chronic they'll bet on a game they have absolutely no understanding of.
So here's to you, the AFL, for providing a small section of Britain's lonely men with something to talk to each other about.
"HARDEN UP" AUSSIE BLOKES
Draped in AFL or National Rugby League garb, his voice is seven to eight octaves lower than seems physically possible. He speaks like a Gatling gun, bookending everything he says with "eh". He'll sidle up to you in bars and tell you to "have a cup of concrete and harden the fuck up", completely unprovoked, just because he likes how the idiom makes him sound.
As irritating as that seems, these guys are generally a lot of fun to be around. They're great to "punch frothies" with, have a ton of energy for trying irresponsible things and are really helpful on camping trips (they'll watch you struggle for five seconds, take over, set up your tent for you and stress how incompetent you are for the entire duration).
WE SHOW YOU HOW TO LIVE WELL
Melbourne has been voted the most liveable city in the world for four years in a row. The jewel in the brown land's crown is the envy of its sister states and the world at large, and also the benchmark we can use to explain to you how you should be living your lives better.
Many in the UK see this as an undesirable trait, but we see it as a free education for our intercontinental cousins on how to improve and maybe, one day, reach our level. You're welcome, Britain.
Invented by an Australian in 1926, these are great at keeping British people alive for far longer than their black-pudding scorched and cocaine-swamped hearts had intended.
Developed by an Australian, this is great for watching Vine compilations on the toilet and provoking long, enraged telephone conversations with your network provider about why your service keeps cutting out.
NEW WAVE AUSTRALIANA
Bands like Tame Impala, Rat & Co, Chela, Eddie Current Suppression Ring, Violent Soho, British India and the Drunk Mums. Fashion labels like Discount Universe, Black Milk and Cameo. Finally some exports we can be proud of after decades of awkwardness among my homeland's culturally astute about all the shit we were tossing your way.
OLD WAVE AUSTRALIANA
Kylie, Neighbours, Barry Humphries, Home and Away, Steve Irwin, Heath Ledger – everything that contributed to your childhood in vital yet mostly intangible ways.
(Sorry about Mel Gibson and Rolf Harris – probably could have done without either of them, eh?)
WHEN YOU'RE MOVING HOUSE, OUR FRIENDSHIP IS AT A PREMIUM
Australians in the UK seem to be very good at moving stuff. If you need to lift something and put it somewhere else, but don't feel up to it, chances are you'll call someone with a van, and that someone is often Australian.
It's a common complaint among the other Australians I know here in London that, if we weren't here, once something was put down it would never be picked up again. Civilisation would just be forced to exist around it, like that yellowing stain you can't get out of your sheets.
COFFEE AND PIZZA
Pizza, we officially do better than anyone else in the world, and coffee – well, as Australians, we're at a loss at your nation's inability to pour hot water over coffee grains and add milk without it tasting like wheelie bin water. So we open shops and do it for you.
Yes, we didn't come up with either of these, but that doesn't matter. In the southern hemisphere, we're less about inventing stuff, more about taking pre-existing stuff and doing it way better than you (shouts to the Australian national cricket team).
To be honest, moving away from Europe and the declining US – and instead aligning ourselves with the Asia-Pacific region – is something we increasingly talk about when you're not in the room. But still, we want the visas and we've got a long history with you guys, so we just aren't jerks about it.
Go, Britannia, you're still winning the race!
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