In 1964 Donald Horne published a book titled The Lucky Country.
The phrase has resonated over the years to become a wink and a nudge for the name of a country blessed with unlimited natural resources, a lush economy and universal egalitarian mateship.
It is a misappropriation of his intended irony that made Horne very cranky indeed.
The opening words of the last chapter, in the best tradition of literary construction, return the reader to the book’s beginning: “Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck.”
In 1964 I was in transition between ars gratia artis† and ars gratia pecunium‡.
I was working for The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust in Sydney and Melbourne. The Trust managed and funded — through government subvention and sponsorship — The Australian Ballet and Ballet School and the Australian Opera Company and several drama companies.
I was barely 23 and my principal assets were two decent dinner suits, four dinner shirts, dress cufflinks and studs that could pass for the real thing in sympathetic light, and assorted black, bow ties.
I don’t think I ever wore any of these as a copywriter at J. Walter Thompson or Creative Director at McCann-Erickson. They did occasionally come in handy later during the next 25 years as an expatriate in the movie business.
Back in Australia since the new century, I find myself frequently cranky and grumpy about many things, and joyous over others.
These are my postcards from the edge.
†Art for art’s sake
‡Art for money’s sake