It’s been five years in the making but I can now call myself an Aussie. It was always going to happen but I didn’t fully understand the impact this milestone would have on me, my family & friends.
It wasn’t until my mother-in-law called the night before, to complain that I hadn’t invited her to my citizenship ceremony, that it truly dawned on me that this was a bigger deal that I had anticipated.
For me the idea of becoming an Australian was pretty abstract, what is it to be Australian?
I’d long since made a commitment to live here, had another child, set up business, bought a bbq and a backyard (with a house thrown in) — surely no piece of paper could change my identity, could it? Post citizenship test, post ceremony, I’m still me.
Aside from now having an entitlement to wear thongs for any occasion, I must confess I do feel a little different. I feel I can bitch about the cricket — in ways I couldn’t before. Now too I can vote and therefore bitch about the government of the day — although clearly I was doing that before. Constructive criticism only mind. But what does feel different is my relationship with Australia.
Maybe it’s a bit like getting married. There’s been a big romance and a need to consolidate my position within this relationship, to affirm (publicly) my affections but it’s the commitment and the faith Australia has put in me that has really changed the game. Suddenly I feel very responsible to do my best for Australia and at the very least compelled to learn the second verse of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ (that’s the Australian national anthem for those reading from afar). I was never a tourist but now, more so than ever, I feel privileged to be (officially) part of a wonderful nation. “You can take the boy out of London but you’ll never take London out of the boy” — whilst I’m sure there’s an element of truth in this and I’m in the enviable position of having dual nationality, my family, friends and all the history that the UK has to offer — as I write from my desk in sunny Castlemaine I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more Australian.
And of course what better way to celebrate becoming Australian than have all your Aussie mates turn up to your backyard for a surprise barbie that your sheila had secretly organised. A great way to mark the occasion and reaffirm one of Mayor Redden’s key notes in his speech — the importance of mateship. Box ticked. And there I was, Aussie burger (with requisite pineapple, egg and beetroot) in hand, sporting my new Gazza Dazza Krazza T-shirt and bright yellow thongs surrounded by smiles.
Gav in all his Gazza Dazza Krazza t-shirt glory. Not sure this one will win any design awards.