Neglected queen

On Wednesday I attended my first ever citizenship ceremony, in a marquee in lovely Enmore Park. After a welcome to country with dance and didj, we had mercifully brief speeches from the local state member, the state member for nearby Canterbury, the local federal member, the local Woolworths manager (who won the brevity medal), an Olympic sportswoman (who quoted bad Henry Lawson), and the Mayor of Marrickville. Then the mayor put on her new chains for the first time – ‘Just a sec,’ she said, ‘I have to get dressed up for this bit.’ The new citizens took the oath and the affirmation of allegiance (the ones with pink name tags had ‘under God’ in their formula, those with orange tags were godless) and each went up to receive a certificate and enjoy a photo op with the mayor. We stood for the national anthem, and it was all over.

And then we found the queen. Unlike God, I don’t recall her being mentioned during the ceremony, but perhaps a photo of our head of state is compulsory for these events. because there she was, sticky-taped to one of the posts of the marquee. This photo doesn’t do justice to the image: the actual pink was much pinker than this, the gold more golden, the blue of her hair much, much bluer. It could have been Dame Edna.

God save her.

9 responses to “Neglected queen

  1. Love the old Liz – who was one of the first people to put her hand in her pocket for Qld

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  2. I did not see the Queen in my ceremony in 2004. Maybe it is a new thing.
    The new mayor might have arranged it.

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  3. Pamela: Yes, even many staunch republicans harbour such affection. This picture seemed inspired by affection rather than protocol
    Agnes: It could be. You never know which way these Greens are going to jump.

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  4. You’ve just given me another reason for avoiding citizenship! For some bizarre reason, taking out citizenship in a private ceremony is forbidden (unless you do it in a hot air balloon, as one enterprising New Zealander did a few years ago). Yet, the more I see and read about citizenship ceremonies, the more I wonder why the ban stays in place. The official reason is that the public ceremony is some sort of public affirmation, but citizenship ceremonies are just, as far as I can see, exercises in kitsch (photo ops with the local mayor? Ye Gods!).

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  5. I gather some ceremonies are a lot better than others, Stephen. Richard Tulloch posted a lovely description of the one where his wife (and commenter on this post) took the plunge, at http://richardtulloch.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/australia-day-a-festival-for-racist-yobs/

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  6. “Having an Australian passport would simply mean spending less time in immigration queues at Sydney Airport.”
    Well, there’s a killer-diller reason for becoming an Australian citizen! Of course, it chimes in with the whole citizenship ceremony farce, with its emphasis on irrelevancies (lamingtons, the local mayor, etc). It all reminds me of a cartoon in Time back in the late sixties. A Russian family is standing in the US embassy in Moscow, and the father says: “We’d like to apply for a color television – sorry, political asylum.”

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  7. I’m not so sure that the local Mayor or Lamingtons are so farcical. A connection to the local mayor can imply community engagement – and at the ceremony I went to last month there was a lot of that in evidence: a young Islander-heritage man received an award for work he’d done organising activities for young people, for instance. Lamingtons may be irrelevant to many things, but they serve well enough as slightly silly emblems of a sense of place and history, and childhood, for Australians of a certain age. And on reflection, avoiding airport queues may be a healthier reason for wanting citizenship than nationalistic fervour.

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    • A local tradesman “of a certain age” who was doing some work for me told me that we were first people who weren’t “Chows” to have moved into the street for some time. I’m sure that he regarded that phrase as as unremarkably emblematic of a sense of place and history as lamingtons!

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  8. Really! Lamingtons equal racism? I’m missing something here. Are you saying that anything that Australians of a certain age hold in affection should be dismissed because other Australians, or even the same Australians, of that age have racist views? I certainly don’t defend lamingtons on nutritional grounds, but I just don’t see your logic here.

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