Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quiet corners of boyhood memories

In general, whenever I happen to poke my nose (out of curiosity) into the current affairs of what used to be my native city and region (Grafton on the Clarence River), I despair sadly of finding any kind of positive evolution in the mentalities of my native folk. I have no reason to believe, though, that it's a specific regional problem. It's a national affair, which concerns the entire island continent. That's to say, I believe that the citizens of my birthplace are behaving perfectly as typical Aussies…

For the moment, the quiet corner of my boyhood memories that concerns me is an intersection of the Pacific Highway in Ulmarra, where I used to ride by on my bike when training with the local cyclists.

It's a typically dull spot, to say the least (nothing to do with the alleged tropical splendors of the Antipodes), on the corner of Coldstream Street in the village of Ulmarra. But this intersection is the theme of a militant article in our local newspaper, the Daily Examiner, which evokes the imminent removal of an "eyesore" at this intersection [access article]. Would the brave journalist be talking of the ugly pile of signs on this corner? Or maybe of the electricity power lines that disfigure this spot, like countless others throughout Australia? No, the "eyesore" that has provoked the wrath of the journalist of the Daily Examiner is that poor old white weatherboard house in the background. A foreign observer such as myself might imagine that this simple archaic dwelling could be transformed, with insignificant financial investments and a lot of imaginative landscaping, into something old and beautiful. But Aussies don't think that way. The journalist is proud to announce that the authorities have approved a grant of $15,000 for the demolition of this house, to "ready the lot for a possible future sale".

In this way, slowly but surely, cultural and administrative erosion is eradicating forever the lovely old Australia of my boyhood. The archaic pale ghost of the house in Ulmarra will have soon disappeared, to be replaced by an imposing concrete monstrosity. But we can be confident that the shithouse collection of road signs on the corner of Coldstream Street will remain in place, along with the electricity lines, for a long time. That's Down Under...

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