Don't mention cricket just now. Apart from that, Australia is unarguably the second-best country in the world in which to lead the good life, and Australians are the best people, second to none, to have around when you're in a tight spot (in either sense). Matthew Engel, writing in Adelaide, says many good and sensible things about Australia and Australians in his column in this weekend's Financial Times: well worth a mouse-click.
J and I spent seven years living and working (and travelling around) in Australia during our working lives, four of them in the mid-1970s when among other things we were transfixed by the country's only coup d'état, and three-and-a-half of them in the early 1990s when Australia was transfixed by the controversy, still unresolved, over who should be Australia's head of state (most Australians wanted an Australian President, but they couldn't agree on how the President should be chosen, so the London- and Balmoral-based Queen of Australia reigned on, and still does).
The only thing to disagree with, I think, in Engel's column is his closing quotation:
Thirty years ago the philosopher David Stove put it like this: "At cricket the Australian is a Pom-beating animal. The margin of superiority is slight, but it is consistent…My own belief is that it is due to a difference in attitude towards the opponent: that whereas the Australians hate the Poms, the Poms only despise the Australians."
Perhaps that was valid thirty years ago, and it's still valid on the compulsive Pom-beating at cricket — and any other sport when the opportunity arises. But for many years now I don't think it's been true that many Australians 'hate' the Poms, any more than these days any significant number of Poms 'despise' the Australians. There's still an interesting edge to the relationship, but I like to think that when the chips are down, rather than on Aussie or Pommy shoulders, we're mates.