I gave it some thought, imagining what might have been had an Aboriginal elder bailed up Governor Phil metres from the beach in 1788 and declared, “Hey Pom! We decide who comes into this country, and the manner in which they arrive, so you, and your boatloads of crims, rack off!” Then organised his fiercest warriors to tow the astonished members of the First Fleet back out to sea, nudging them in the direction of New Zealand.
As the vision faded, I returned to reality, “Well, what about Ping?” I asked.
“You know, Pete, Daddy’s Asian mate, would you send him back?”
“No, he’s okay, he’s been Aussiemated.”
I laughed, “I think you mean assimilated! But on second thought…”
Ping arrived here in the late 80’s, clutching a bag of clothes and a “How to Speak English” book. He was at once welcomed by a taxi driver who happily drove him into the city via Cooktown.
Pings’ English was perfect, but his Australian needed a lot of work. The day we met I asked him, “So, what are you doing this arvo?” He spent hours trawling through his book trying to work out what ‘arvo’ meant. Later, when I told him, he said, “What I need is a ‘How to Speak Aussie’ guide.” I gave him an old John O’Grady classic, ‘Aussie English’. I knew he’d read it, because he next time we met he yelled, “G’day you old b#@*&%^d! Pull up a pew and wet your whistle!” Which gave the vicar quite a turn at the time.
Ping enrolled at uni, got a couple of part time jobs, and spent his spare time seeing more of Australia than a spy satellite. “There are no crowds! The beaches! The mountains! It is truly bonza!” he would often mutter. He enquired about staying, but the political landscape had changed and the bar had been raised significantly. There were some dodgy options available, but he was determined to do things by the book. I tried to explain that this was very un-Australian, but he wouldn’t listen.
Eventually he cracked it, then changed his name, met a girl, and bought a house. Occasionally his parents make the trip out, and while they are very happy for him, they are appalled at how poor his English is nowadays, and apparently that’s my fault! Fair dinkum, I was just doing my bit to help someone become Aussiemated.