New York city is so rich in culture and diversity, it is mind blowing Darryl. They have a channel that plays baseball 24 hours… a… day. Some of the bars have more than 20 televisions, each one playing a sporting event of real cultural significance. You should see The Australian Bar and Restaurant. It’s more Australian than Australia…
A young Tasmanian girl approached the bar on Saturday afternoon and politely requested Land Down Under for the listening pleasure of patrons. She was just starting to get fired up. It was about 6pm in New York, Australia had been smashed 4-0 by Germany, and being a Sunday afternoon most of the patrons had cut their losses and busted out into the evening twilight to shake the memory of the emphatic loss. This little pumper however, was not about to let the 4 goal hiding get the better of her, and no sooner had she finished drowning out Men At Work with her own spirited vocals, she was back at the bar with a much noisier plea for I Still Call Australia Home. This time she was backed by a man wearing our flag as a cape and a couple of amused Americans who were keen to come along for the ride. They were all wearing the yellow World Cup t-shirts that we’d been flogging for 15 dollars over the bar.
‘Where are you from,’ I asked her.
‘Tasmania,’ she said.
‘How long have you been away from home?’
‘Two and a half years, I really really need this.’
Who was I to deny her these guilty pleasures? She had me wrapped around her little finger.
The song came on a few minutes later by which time she had gathered a bigger posse. They stumbled blindly through each verse before smashing the choruses, arm in arm, into oblivion. By songs end the little Tasmanian, now affectionately known as Boony, was started to fatigue. When I got back to her she was slumping a little on the bar.
“One more, she said, her index finger raised up to my eye level. This one’s gonna get you a big tip.’
‘Let me guess, True Blue?’
‘No,’ she said. ‘Waltzing Matilda.’
The sound system kicked into over drive. ‘Once a Jolly swagman camped by a Billabong… Boony and friends lifted about ten notches and sang with the kind of passion you’d expect from a group of larrikins bonded by beer and cheap green and gold shirts. I could do nothing but smile. The truth is, I can’t be cynical about Aussies abroad. I’d been out of the country three weeks and here I was at The Australian Bar and Restaurant pouring a river of Coopers and Fosters for Aussie punters. Boony sidled up to the bar, slipped me a fiver and a complimentary wink for good measure. I’d done good. When I got home I stashed the Aussie World Cup T-Shirt into my bag. It could be a few years before I return to Australia, but when I do, that one’s going straight to the poolroom.