One of my daughters is dropping advertising material (you're not allowed to call it "Junk Mail") in letterboxes, and I volunteered to do a block or two as it synchronized well with my morning walk.
This meant that I was able to amble along in the pleasant morning, enjoying the freshness after last night's storms, and listening to the music from festivities at Picnic Point.
There's no way in the world I'd ever participate willingly in these carryings-on, as it's not my generation's style, and is something that's developed, along with a fair whack of commercialism of the theme, in the last decade.
Other less attractive behaviours (in sport - exulting when a goal is scored; socially - getting drunk and waving the flag; and in some parts of our fair land, beating up minorities) have also marred the day recently. A new faux patriotism has developed which I find pretty disgraceful, and very boring.
The cliché "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" has never been as relevant as it is in 2009.
The theme is also being commercially exploited to the absolute limit – not necessarily a new development, but one that is being managed with increased sophistication by the corporations. The nifty little flags being hocked everywhere, and ending up on the cars of every second bogan are a good example. On the topic of flags – I've never been particularly enamored of our national symbol, although many years ago I fought under it and I always display the flag as a badge when traveling overseas, manly so I won't be mistaken for a Yank or Pom.
A flag which has the national symbol of another country in its top left corner is, to my mind, a statement of a cultural cringe that we outgrew a long time ago. How can we claim to be proud of our country when we display another's flag on our own? Besides, my ancestors were driven from their native land by this same empire.
Here are some alternatives, although neither is aesthetically pleasing. They are however, representative to a greater degree of my idea of our national identity. Maybe it's time for a flag competition – or maybe it could be combined with another referendum on the republic question – hopefully with bi-partisan support.
To me, the extent to which we are a nation of individuals, even eccentrics, the extent to which we can disagree and remain cohesive, the level of compassion shown to those aging and with disabilities, and the time we give to our children are far better measures of our nation than the amount of flag waving and boozing that occurs on this important day.
And the flag?
I've always favoured the Eureka flag. It symbolises action taken by a group of free men in an attempt to subvert the petty tyranny imposed on them. Futile - maybe, but so was Gallipoli, and Vietnam.
That's why it's on my blog.