Sophie Marie Atkinson.
Invasion Day. That’s what the Indigenous people of Oz call Australia Day. I can only assume that they named it so because they witnessed my experiences in Clapham on January 26th 2013.
Disclaimer time: I’m by no means an Australian-hater. Au contraire. I live with one; in the marital sense. My long-term boyfriend is a through-and-through Aussie. A Perth boy. He surfs. He plays Aussie Rules. He wears ‘bathers’. He visits the ‘bottle-o’ (I have no idea either). His favourite meals are in fact all cooked on a BBQ. Cut him open and he’d bleed Fosters and Vegemite.
And yet, when I was tasked with visiting Clapham South’s late-night bar Gigalum on the Great Day, he refused to join me.
“Clapham? On Australia Day? Are you taking the piss, Shelia?! Ya flamin’ galah!”
[I may be paraphrasing slightly…]
I imagine Gigalum is busy enough on a normal Saturday night; but when we arrived at 7:30pm on Australia Day, it was already one-in-one-out. Gulp. Despite this, we squeezed in and we were offered a selection of ‘grog’ (could a nation have come up with a less appealing name for booze?). So what was left for us to do but give it a whirl.
I’ll be honest, I’d expected bedlam, but was pleasantly surprised with what I found. Yes, it was rammed; but you know what? We got into the swing of things and before we knew it, we were in the heat of it all ourselves: schooner
of sauv blanc in one hand, inflatable kangaroo in the other (the result the next day being that my mouth was drier than a dead dingo’s donger).
So next year, come Invasion, I mean Australia, Day, I’ll be donning my thongs, grabbing myself a tinny, some face paints and heading down to good ol’ Clapham. Leaving my preconceptions behind. But not my inflatable kangaroo.