Growing up in Scotland was different from Australia. Family and friends lived within walking distance and, since there were lots of people about, walking to and fro to different houses, was generally quite safe – even for a person on their own. Many people and families were out and about after midnight on New Year. And that was the thing – you walked – rugged up against the cold. Even when herself and I got married, our house was not all that far from her parents in one direction and my family in the other. When we first came to Australia it was like that here. This was very much a British Community and we all shared the same values and traditions – sort of. The family all lived within walking distance and we took turns each year of hosting Christmas and New Year. All this began to change with the depression of 1985/6. The story takes too long to tell but suffice to say after 1986 everything changed. Most of my family and many of the friends we had made, all left to find work in other places. We no longer had family Christmas Dinner together but my remaining sister and I looked after Mum until she died a few years ago.
I was thinking about that last night and chatting with my oldest son about tradition, the concept of “First Footing” and the fact that my father took it
very seriously. But it was not really a problem because the first person to set foot in your house in the New Year was generally a Neighbour, and so they all went first footing each other – then branched out to walks to family. And the Scots who came out here brought these traditions with them – all gone now, along with the traditions of other communities – The Croatian Club- gone/ Club Italico (now the haunt of a few very old men) the German Club – gone / The Burns Society – gone / St. Andrew’s Association – gone / the Masonic Lodges – gone. What has taken their place is open all night hotels and pubs, mostly haunted by teenagers who go there with the sole intention of “having fun” and for many of them, having fun is getting plastered ( like the classy lady Suzie81 wrote about some time ago) – although many of them are half tanked before they get there. True, we are not too bad here, but in Adelaide it’s a nightmare – alcohol fueled violence most weekends in Rundle Street (Street – not Mall) and politicians and police seem to be unable to stop it. Of course having a bunch of Justice Jokers who think a serious punishment is a severe talking to and a three week jail sentence- suspended – doesn’t help. People have been giving a suspended sentence for killing a person – drunk driving. The family of the victim are outraged – the public are outraged – the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) throws out his chicken chest and talks about a sentence that is ‘Manifestly Inadequate” promises an investigation – then quietly forgets about it as soon as the furor dies down. And that’s why we have continual alcohol-fulled violence – consequences for most things is minimal – look contrite, tell the Justice Joker how sorry you are and how you feel for the family of the victim, and Bob’s your uncle – home in time for dinner.
We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away.
Some parts of Australia, mainly inland , have brought in the New Year with temperatures of 50c. We were 44.5c , which Is just a tad warm. I took the dogs out walking after the bite had gone out of the sun, and was silly enough to think that the wind would keep away the flies. As I said, silly decision, and I gave up after about ten minutes. One thing I have never adjusted to in Australia is the continual flies – hoards of the things that follow you around like a cloud. I hate it. I like Australia but I hate going outside and spending half my time batting flies away from my face. As I said before, the personal fly-nets that fit over your hat are becoming quite popular. It still looks a bit silly, but then people with very painful sunburnt feet think the “English Thing” – wearing sox with sandal -, looks silly :o)