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Bloody Whingeing Aussies

By Mike Hytner on November 20, 2012 in Other

A whingeing Aussie in action…

The weather, the performances of our miserable sports teams, the price of petrol, the national health system, the height of the neighbour’s fence – you name it, anything and everything has been fair game for us whingeing Poms over the years.

Much like our famous self-deprecation, neuroticism, penchant for glorious failure and bad teeth, whingeing is a trait that has come to define us as a nation. Or at least that’s what the Aussies, leading their beautiful carefree lives in their beautiful sun-kissed country, will have us think.

Since I arrived in Australia, I’ve been accused of being a whingeing Pom on numerous occasions (understandably so, especially if the topic of precipitation has been involved). But, and it might just be me, I have noticed something of a role reversal of late. Not exactly a seismic shift in attitudes, but a noticeable one nevertheless.

While a glorious European summer in the UK (not in terms of the weather, naturally, just everything else) has lifted the nation’s spirits to highs not seen for many years – and reasons for potential whingeing to record lows – the inhabitants of this fine country seem to have stepped into English boots and acquired a fondness for a good old moan.

I was first alerted to this relatively new phenomenon last autumn when a record-breaking deluge of rain soaked Sydney over a two-month period and I was subjected to daily whinges from disgruntled, soggy Aussies. Then, after Australia’s poor showing at the Olympics in London, the same voices of discontent piped up, leaving me to wonder if Aussies had really started to spout off more than usual.

This very magazine may well serve as a barometer of this perceived change. In the September edition the letters section swelled like a Bondi cigar to a monster five pages, an unprecedented number in my reading of the mag. Over the last couple of months, to name but a few examples, we’ve had various complaints about traffic calming measures, car parking, dogs (and their poo), children (and their poo) and smokers… surely a rant about smokers’ poo must be just around a poorly sign-posted corner.

I’ve been left to mull the following conclusions: 1) Living in Australia is really shit; 2) English people masquerading as Aussies are the ones who are moaning; 3) Formerly non-whingeing locals have been seriously overexposed to Poms living in Australia.

Despite being a born-and-bred Pommie, and therefore an uncontrollable whinger by nature, I simply cannot subscribe to number one. It’s great round here and you’d be bonkers to knock it. Number two is possible, if unlikely, and as for number three, the last time I looked, medical science had not proved whingeing to be a contagious ailment.

Actually, the reality is more likely to go something like this: Australia is such a great place to live that when things don’t run entirely smoothly, it’s worth having a whinge about. Be it some crap weather, a dog walker who doesn’t scrape a turd off the pavement or an elite Olympian who fails to live up to his or her high standards, Aussies won’t stand for second best in anything. It’s not whingeing for the sake of it, it’s whingeing because better is wanted, expected even. And if a little moan can lead to improvements (weather excepted, obviously) then I for one have no problem with a bloody whingeing Aussie.