Friday, December 23, 2005

Heading towards Christmas down under.

I've been in Australia for about seven years now. I'm finally adjusting to Christmas actually being HOT not cold. Sydney is expecting 38 tomorrow (100 for those in the US) and that takes a lot of adjusting. Apart from thirty years of associating Christmas with heavy coats, gloves and hoping my toes don't fall off, all the Christmassy songs (except for this one) have got that Northern Hemisphere bent. Snow, sleighs, Jack Frost nipping at your heels and winter wonderland all over the place. After watching a Winnie the Pooh Christmas cartoon, my three-year old son asked whether it would snow soon. Luckily he didn't like his only contact with snow, eighteen months ago on a day trip to Lithgow in the Blue Mountains, so he wasn't too disappointed when I said that it wasn't likely.

But I'm still having trouble with the daylight. There's just so much of it. Every night, my son wants to see the "Christmas house", which is basically any of several houses that has LOTS of lights. The problem is, it doesn't get dark until after his bedtime. Still we've allowed a few late nights, and one with his baby sister. He was pretty much asleep at the 'Carols by candlelight' before we even lit our 'candle' (one of those glowing plastic sticks which are less likely to start bushfires).

While I'm talking about Australia and children, the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not the American one) is our national broadcaster. It is funded out of general taxation, unlike back in England where you had to be licenced to own anything as dangerous as a television set. It's children's television segment is presented by a rabbit called Mixy.

Rabbits were introduced into Australia over a hundred years ago, partly as food and partly as something to hunt. The thing about rabbits is that breed, well, like rabbits. Start with a couple and you soon have a whole continent full. So in the 1950's myxomatosis was introduced into Australia to kill off as many rabbits as possible. So the national broadcaster thinks it perfectly reasonable that its Children's TV segment is presented by a feral, diseased pest. I'm unsure whether that is because it is how Australians view children, or whether its what they want them to grow up to be.

And finally, on children's TV, there's also a disturbing similarity between the Teletubbies and the Australian Federal government. For those without small children, the Teletubbies are group of four rather over-fed individuals who live in a grass-covered dome in the far from anywhere. Often, with overtones of Big Brother, trumpets will emerge from the ground from which anonymous voices will tell the Teletubbies what to do (though they may be naughty and ignore the advice).
The Australian Federal Government is based in a grass-covered dome in Canberra, built roughly equidistant between Sydney and Melbourne with the sole purpose of being a place to put the government. They often get advice from anonymous public servants, some of which is followed. And both Teletubbies and politicians speak in a babble from which you can understand the occasional word but which, on the whole, generally makes pretty little sense.
The Teletubbies at least have the Noo Noo who comes to clean up after them.....


Pete Scott said...

If you are hungry for Xmas lights in the old country there is

Season greatings!

Eddie Awad said...

I know all about Teletubbies, thanks to my 4 year old son. He was more interested in them when he was 3 though.

Happy Holidays :)