Wednesday, March 17, 2010

POTUS Guide to Canberra

POTUS Briefing Document #1029 Subsection (W)

Local Guide to Canberra

Mr President,

As requested by Agent Leiter and Mr Ballweight from the Australian Taxation Office, I have provided a few notes about Canberra... although there seems to be some confusion about this (our man in Canberra is a pen-name, not an indication of actually being your... no Mr Ballweight, I didn’t know an Australian taxpayer could be on double secret probation... anyway...


It’s almost impossible to spend any time in Australia without a nickname. Luckily, you’ve used Barry before (Aust. Bazza) and it’s one of this nation’s most revered names. Bazza is more popular than Ned or Mick, although on Friday night in the bars around Civic ‘Oishitforbrains (Wideyaspillmedrink)’ gives it a strong run for its money.

North and South

Canberra’s version of the Mason–Dixon Line is Lake Burley Griffin (Aust. Lake Curly Gherkin). Depending on what side of the lake you live on, the opposite side is a toxic location full of bad drivers, inconsiderate cyclists, druggies and (worst of all) bogans. The US Embassy is on the Southside, so as far as you're concerned these descriptors apply to the Northside.


Let’s face it Mr President, you’re probably safer here than at home. This is not to say Australia doesn’t have racial problems - we just prefer to goad our black fellas into a miasma of despair and then hope they’ll quietly crawl into a bottle rather than shoot them (Aust. anymore).

Nor do we have a tradition of violence towards politicians - in fact just the opposite – which means if a certain parliamentarian *koff* Belinda Neal *koff* offers to buy you a beer, politely decline, signal security and move briskly towards the nearest exit. My notes don’t mention you playing soccer so you should be fine.

Finally, like most small to medium cities, Canberra has its less than salubrious neighbourhoods, but as you have bodyguards and an armoured car, Kambah should be pretty safe, perhaps even Charnwood.


Many of Canberra’s workers are public servants (Aust. pubes) and the population predominantly middle-class. Despite this the citizens of Canberra are beset by bogans. They’re everywhere, apparently, and are identifiable in a number of ways.

Bogans only appreciate sport that requires an internal combustion engine, don’t eat organic produce, drink domestic beer or RTD Woodstock bourbon and generic cola (Aust. piss/turps) and continue to enjoy themselves despite what others think. They also saddle their children with ridiculous monikers like Jaxon, Tailuh and Schappelle, instead of proper names such as Brunel, Gaspard and Antigone.

In short, bogans are the type of people whose first thought, when confronted by a McDonald’s menu, is not to critically note the so called ‘healthy choice options’ and muse sotto voce “Cognitive dissonance, much?” but rather “I’ll go a big mac and medium fries.”


Speaking of which, after dinner with the Rudds at the Lodge (Aust. poor bastard) it might be wise to keep this address in mind.


Undoubtedly you’re aware of the three phases in the evolution of American media: watch dog, attack dog, lap dog. In Australia our press gallery is more cattle dog. They move as a herd, growl briefly on initial contact to prove their independence then, once you’ve shown them some horn, will usually roll over to get their tummy patted. If you do let them inside make sure to put down plenty of newspaper (they’re rather excited about your visit).

Politicians and Dignitaries

OK. Remember the wonky guy who goes overboard with the Decore Magic Silver White and looks like the class swot? You’ve met him a couple of times and he’s the Aussie Prime Minister (Aust. Ruddbot/Kruddy). The Chinese government (Aust. the new landlords) seems to like him and even gave him a honourary Chinese name - Hee Doo Bang-ohn.

Next up – notice the redhead who looks like she could beat the Prime Minister in both events of a chess boxing match? She’s Julia Gillard (Aust. the nation’s senior ranga) and she'll be in charge directly, so lay on a bit of charm.

By the way, the over-enunciating clothes horse with the ageing sex kitten vibe is the Governor-General (Aust. embarassing colonial anachronism). And no, most of us don’t know what she actually does either.


cristy said...


But don't we say Booners rather than Bogans in Canberra. (We certainly did when I was at school).

our man in Canberra said...

Thanks Cristy. Booner is correct but I fear bogan has just about washed it and other regional variations away: 'bevan' in QLD and 'chigger' (from the suburb Chigwell) in TAS.

Glad you liked it and (as reader of two peas) pleased you stopped by.

cristy said...

Yes, I have to admit that I often use Bogan myself these days...

As for finding the blog, I'm a bit slow aren't I? Glad I finally meandered over here though.

our man in Canberra said...

Not slow at all - Notional Capital is pretty low key these days (suspect Twitter plays a part). Pattie is currently working her way through a rough guide to local cellar doors that's cross posted on Progressive Dinner Party and I throw out the odd observational piece (usually involving very old jokes).

cristy said...

Yes, I've seen Pattie's wine cellar tour over at PDP, but I'm not a wine drinker so it kind of goes over my head (except to make me sort of understand what I'm missing)...

Miss Andrea said...

Glad to see Lake Curly Gherkin is still getting a run.

And glad to see some of your "odd observational pieces" popping up again.

our man in Canberra said...

Hey Miss A.

Coincidentally, I caught your poetic encouragment on the wireless yesterday* and was preparing to start my cobwebbed RSS reader and catch up on the Berracircular.

The quick hit of Twitter has become addictive and I've been slack on the blogging front - but more OOPs coming soon.

*Proving that I do listen... as distinct from teasing the producers on Twitter about the station playlist.