There’s a great annual event in which my antipodean motherland has always starred as the all-time world champion. I’m talking, of course, of New Year festivities. One of my sisters recently took offense at my irritating habit—Mea culpa!—of systematically suggesting that France and the French do most things better than anywhere else in the world. Well, Susan will be pleased to learn that, as far as New Year festivities are concerned, I’m prepared to take off my hat [that is, my French beret] to Australia. In fact, I’ll replace it by my recently-purchased Akubra. No matter what we do here in France with a view to making sure that our ushering in the New Year will be performed lavishly in a spectacular French style, with a little help from such famous friends as the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysées, we always learn—on the evening TV news, when countless French citizens are taking steaming pavlovas or lamingtons out of their kitchen ovens [ask my daughter about that], and preparing for the imminent celebrations—that we’ve been licked by the folk Down Under, who are already dancing around on the warm sand of balmy beaches and watching the pagan dawn-bringer Lucifer in the sky with diamonds.
Rejoicing? What a weird festive season! Besides the Jewish Hanukkah, the Christian Xmas and the Islamic Eid ul-Adha, the planet was treated to three other morbid more-or-less unplanned happenings: the passing of a dull US president named Ford, the barbaric US-orchestrated hanging of an Iraqi tyrant and—last but not least—the three-thousandth death of an American soldier in the grotesque conflict initiated by a god-fearing Texan moron (also God-hearing and execution-loving), George Walker Bush, assisted by lapdog buddies named Blair and Howard.
In such circumstances, should we rejoice at the start of this New Year? Or should we rather meditate upon the tragedy of the specimen of Darwinian Nature named Homo Sapiens? For me, the pavlova is flat, and the coconut on the chocolate lamingtons reminds me obscurely—in an inverted (antipodean) sense, meaningful here in my wintry Gamone abode—of fiery drops of dark blood upon the snow.