Stoicism. Made in Oz.

(for the Frog in Oz and M.)

Every now and then, we non-Australians wonder about living here. Especially the chronic tongue-tiedness of the common Australian male leaves us sometimes wondering whether they're actually alive. As an aside, and from personal experience, I'd counsel against using the phrase "Just blink if you can hear me" in any discussion - it doesn't tend to go down too well.

However, of course there's a flipside, because there always is. Australians at their best are unflappable in crisis situations, calm to the point of premature rigor mortis and as dry as the Nullarbor. And I can't tell you how refreshing that is compared to, say, permanently hyperventilating New Yorkers (Woody Allen…), or perpetually whingeing Londoners, or sour-faced Berliners, all of whom consider an incorrectly-served breakfast coffee a major catastrophe.

(Yea, I know. Roll up, roll up, get your clichées here, they're luvverly, they're cheap!)

Had to think about this last Saturday, when O. reminded me of the surfer who was attacked at Bronte Beach in Sydney last April. Now, keep in kind that this is Bronte Beach - a beach smack bang in the middle of Sydney (and not too far from my place), immensely popular with locals and tourists alike, not some remote stretch of South Australian coastline. So this bloke Simon Letch got attacked by a shark in the early hours of the morning whilst catching a few waves, thrust his board at it, fought it off, made it to the beach and was back in the water an hour later. Pretty amazing in itself, eh? BUT: I remember hearing him interviewed on the radio the same morning and from memory, this is roughly how the interview went:
INTERVIEWER: "So what happened?"
LETCH: "Well, I had this shark coming for me so I shoved the board in its mouth, it bit into the board and left some pretty impressive teeth marks and then I got the hell back to the beach!"
INTERVIEWER: "And then what did you do?"
LETCH [pausing a few seconds as if to imply what a silly question that is]: "Well, I got myself a new board."
Pure gold. And reminiscent of one of my favourite samples on a record ever. On Hot Dog Daiquiri by the all-rockin', all-skankin' Aussie live legends The Porkers you'll find the track Smoke on the Porker, which is basically singer Pete Cooper being interviewed on local Newcastle radio about a big fire right next to the Porkers' recording studio:
PETE: "...and then the police came and told us to get out of the studio."
INTERVIEWER: "And what did they say?"
PETE [pause]: "Get out!" [laughter]
INTERVIEWER: "And then what did you do?"
PETE [longer pause]: "We got out."
As I said: pure gold. When you look up "laconic" in your dictionary, there really should only be a picture of an Australian male.