Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Tea Party

What a topsy-turvy world we live in. All of a sudden the English cricket team is the one bright spot on that nation's horizon. While the nation's "yoof" has been tearing their communities down and setting fire to the remains, the English cricket team has been thrashing India to become the world's top test cricket nation. This is a real reversal of fortune and must have thrown the rabid British sports press into a state of high confusion. Now they'll have to find another English sporting team to denigrate and humiliate. No doubt they're sharpening their pencils in preparation for the next England football fixture. Then there's the Rugby Union World Cup coming up soon in New Zealand, I'm certain the great British press are already honing their spiteful little barbs as we speak.

Here in Australia the sporting press is very different, maybe because we live upside down and the blood rushes to our head. Here, if an Aussie wins a chess game, the press, radio and TV people are all over them. Their neighbours are interviewed, their distant cousins are wheeled out to say what a lovely down to earth, unassuming "Larrikin" (In English - yob.) they are and their dog will be filmed crapping in the park. They will also get a civic reception, the keys to their home town and will be photographed with a grinning prime minister who probably has no idea who they are. If the Aussie loses then it is usually put down to one of two causes. Either extreme misfortune, or that the opposition must have cheated. In the British press, for example if the England football team beats Brazil six-nil there will always be a negative - "It was a poor performance by England, who should really have scored at least seven." If they lose its "Oh well. What can you expect from such a bunch of over-paid no-hopers." Win or lose they can't win - if you see what I mean, and this approach is just as disrespectful to the opposition as the Aussie version.

Badger may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he is inquisitive. Just this morning he said to me, "Billy, could you please explain to me about this Tea Party in the USA that I keep hearing and reading about? How," he continued, "does it fit into the context of the Australian political spectrum?" Doesn't sound like Badger does it? Usually the most you get from him is, "Pass me that bit of carrot will ya." Anyway, once I'd recovered from the shock I explained it all to him as best I could.

One day way back in the eighteenth century the British invited all the colonials to tea aboard one of their nice ships anchored in Boston harbour. There were lots of tea and cucumber sandwiches and cupcakes, it was going to be a lovely civilised social occasion. Little fingers would be cocked and the soft murmur of polite conversation would drift across the still waters of the harbour.  However, the British hadn't bargained for the poor manners of the blasted colonials who arrived in vast numbers - all anxious for a free cuppa and a cake. This mob of uncouth, unwashed peasants piled onto the ship, but so large was the crowd that their weight began to sink the vessel. To save everyone's lives all the tea and cakes were thrown overboard, but this so enraged the colonials that they decided that they would no longer have anything to do with Britain in the future. This event became know as the Boston Tea Party. The Tea Party is now a  political movement with a lot of influence in the US Republican Party.
By this time Badger was utterly riveted of course. "So," he said, "what do they stand for - this Tea Party?" I explained. They are a group of people who like to have a very powerful military, good roads upon which to drive their SUVs, fire brigades to drag them out of their house when it's burning and a strong police force to protect their property from those awful poor people, especially the black ones. What they don't want is to have to fork out taxes to pay for it, and they certainly don't want people to have a decent public health system.

Badger stroked his whiskers thoughtfully. "So where do they stand in the political spectrum? He enquired. I tried to think of a way of explaining this to my simple minded little pal. I said, if you take a map of Australia and imagine that Western Australia is the left wing of politics, South Australia is the centre and New South Wales in the right wing. Badger nodded. "I'm with you so far." He said. I continued. Bob Brown - the leader of the Australian Greens party would be standing up to his knees in the Indian Ocean a short way off Perth's City Beach. Prime Minister Julia Gillard would be In Kalgoorlie, hiding from a bunch of irate of miners. Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke would be in a pub in Port Augusta. Barrack Obama would be in Adelaide - probably wondering what the hell he was doing there. John Howard would be in Canberra where he thinks he belongs. Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop would be practising her death stare in Sydney and Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott would be clinging to a buoy in the Tasman Sea somewhere between Sydney and Auckland clad in a pair of revealing budgie smugglers and chanting "STOP THE BOATS" at the top of his voice.

Badger looked a little puzzled - his usual expression if truth be told. "But," he said. "Where on the map does the Tea Party belong?" I told him, they're in Santiago, Chile still mourning the death of Augusto Pinochet.
"Oh." Said Badger. "Pass me that bit of carrot will ya."   

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