For all its sprawling vastness, and for a country so massive, it’s the little things that often get the Aussies excited. Where else would you see a seagull turning into a Twitter sensation even if it had survived a near-fatal blow on a cricket field? And even if it had miraculously come back to life after Rob Quiney had recommended the poor bird be euthanized. It’s unlikely a seagull, that got hit by a Adam Voges pull shot during a Big Bash game at MCG the other day, would be granted cult status.
Probably, it also had something to do with the Aussie fixation for their seagulls. They can’t do without them. During the SCG Test, Steve Smith was complaining about the spider-cam having obstructed his view while trying to take a catch.
But the biggest grouse many of the members and fans had with the voyeuristic gadget was that it chased away all the seagulls from the billiards-table like SCG outfield. Why? “Because the bloody camera looks like a giant eagle in the sky,” said one.
They even got a seagull to promote the one campaign that they are most conscious about Down Under—using sun protection. It was called Slip-Slop-Slap which had a Sid seagull singing and dancing to everyone about the risks of skin cancer and how to avoid it.
And once the seagull was let loose into the Twittersphere, it was just a matter of time before it started demanding exclusive hash-tags and extensive discussions. Seagulls aren’t this unique country’s only obsession though. There’s sport of course. But every Aussie also loves a good story. Generally when he or she is narrating it.
It could be one from their school. It could be one where their family is involved. It could even be about the time they went to a bus-stop. There will be one about Doug Walters or Keith Miller for sure though. Oh, everyone has to have one about Doug Walters. Not just Ian Chappell.
Not just another story
To boot, it’s never just another story. It always has to be an epic, a path-breaking saga. Here, they don’t narrate incidents, they recite accounts, embellished with all the hyperbole they can conjure up. A simple incident or a co-incidence, like Doug Walters hitting a ball from the SCG into Kippax Lake becomes a part of folklore. It’s the ones involving sportspersons that gets them going, “You beauty” though.
You listen to some, and wonder whether there’s ever been a cricket match that’s taken place in Australia without a very eventful, and cuss word-leaden anecdote associated with it.
It’s also evident in the way they celebrate their milestones and their important national holidays. ANZAC Day might be a couple of months away at least, but there are no dearth of advertisements already beefing up the importance of the day they remember those who died fighting for their nation.
So when 33,580 Australians saw live a seagull of all creatures going down like it was shot, and then return to its feet seconds after Quiney for one had already seen it ascend the stairway to heaven, the bird was always going to become a cult hero. Somewhere in his pigeon loft in Melbourne, Bill Lawry would have gone, “He’s gonnee…” before going, “He’s back, oh what a ripper.” Even if Lawry didn’t, be rest assured that the Aussie urban legend directory will claim that he did.