Australia Blues – A Scot at The AshesArchie Mac |
Author: Croll, Stuart and Alexander, David
Publisher: Jibba Jabba
Rating: 3 stars
Some say that Australians can’t take criticism. Most Australians, on hearing this, would reply:
“Piss off wanker, of course we can take criticism”.
The authors of Australia Blues may never be able to set foot in Australia again. It seems almost everything about the country annoys them. The people are not stressed enough and don’t laugh loud enough. The people and city of Melbourne receive particular strident censorious treatment, so perhaps Sydneysiders may let the authors return, given the Sydney – Melbourne rivalry.
Not that Sydney emerges unscathed. The Opera House is underwhelming and the Sydney Harbour bridge not big enough. Forget about the whinging pom, the Scot version is far pettier. Even when the authors indulge in an interesting discourse, such as whether it is morally acceptable for a Scotsman to support the English in cricket, it is done to death. The book would have benefitted from some editing.
Another problem with the book is the lack of cricket coverage. We follow our heroes around Australia as they follow the Ashes but the mention of the matches is threadbare and ends up reading more like a travel book with cricket as a backdrop.
With all the above issues, perhaps at this stage the three stars awarded to this book may seem unwarranted, so let’s discuss the positives. The book is riotously funny in places. The authors dealings with telecommunication providers and security staff* at the five Test venues entertains and will have the reader nodding knowingly. Apparently you can’t take any bags with more than one zip into the Gabba. The normal travelling bugbears are also written in an accessible manner, such as alcohol prices and confusion with public transport.
The joint author tag is somewhat of a misnomer with the entire book told in the first person of Stuart Croll, and you only really meet David Alexander through Croll’s observations. Croll suggests Alexander is the bigger whinger of the two but that, after reading the book, is almost impossible with Croll only really happy with England winning the Ashes. So on that score the lack of cricket coverage is not such a bad thing for the Aussie supporter as this was the first series where Australia lost three Tests by an innings.
*My last trip to an international match was to watch the West Indies at Manuka Oval in Canberra, during the World Cup. The night before we attended, my wife bought a West Indies flag for us to wave. On arrival the over officious security guard made me remove the thin piece of plywood that the flag was attached to, under the guise that it was a potential weapon. Upon entering the ground I noticed a number of exactly the same flags all with the plywood still attached.
I found that there were several vendors inside the venue selling the flags with the only difference being they were twice the price my wife had paid. I had one of these vendors pose with a flag in the front of his stall and then took the photo back to the security guard, so I could reclaim my plywood. His response? How do I know that photo was taken at this ground?