Yesterday Orlando and I stepped up and became new Australian citizens.
It was an easy decision for me, because I want to be able to vote, but Orlando did a lot more soul-searching before deciding to go for it too.
In the end we got invited to a ceremony on Australia Day, in a local park by the river.
Given the agonies I went through to decide an appropriate outfit, I thought I should update you: flowery floaty dress and silver spangly thongs (the footwear, not the underwear). Orlando, of course, wore a three-piece ensemble as is his wont on formal occasions.
Although we were only expecting Mena to join us, by the time the swearing-in had begun we were surrounded by a small throng of our friends. People had foregone sleep and braved the early hours to drive across town to sit with us and support us. We sat on plastic chairs in front of a podium upon which local dignitaries various sat and then stood in turn and speechified at us. We were signed up for the electoral register (it is compulsory to vote here in Australia if you are a citizen) and got little badges with “I’m a new Australian” on.
Once the formalities were dispensed with, we stood and raised our right hand, and recited the oath:
- From this time forward,
- I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
- whose democratic beliefs I share,
- whose rights and liberties I respect, and
- whose laws I will uphold and obey.
Then, one by one, the 60 or so people with us were called to the podium to receive our official certificate of citizenship and a native plant called a pigface (really), and a handshake from Rotary Club Presidents, local councillors, local police chiefs and the like.
The mayor was dressed in what looked like a navy blanket over his suit, and a mayoral chain that looked more like a huge fob watch on a chain (maybe he is a fan of Ludacris). Alarmingly, he also looked very like Ronnie Corbett. The overall look was one of low-budget comedy Dracula. But he seemed like a very nice man.
Even Sam popped by on his way past walking Polly the dog. We really do have great mates.
After posing for the official group photo –
– we trooped off for a grand breakfast up the road. Eileen and Kelvin presented us with an Australia Day showbag full of useful Aussie stuff like true blue Aussie flag thongs, cheeky Aussie Chick and Aussie Bloke tea towels, and little flags to add to our burgeoning collection.
Orlando and I (well I) barbecued up a storm at home and then Orlando, Mena and I headed off to meet the others at the annual Australia Day West Indian cricket picnic where vast quantities of jerk chicken, fried fish, rice and peas, salads and Lenford’s amazing beef curry were consumed under a blazing sun.
The cricket match actually went ahead seriously this year (it never had before) with blokes actually wearing protective clothing and somebody sitting behind us at a table actually recording the score from other people on the cricket oval using what looked like genuine umpire hand gestures. My word.
All in all, we had a lovely day surrounded by our Aussie friends and family. Everybody made the day really special, and were delighted to welcome us as true blue, fair dinkum, dinky die Aussies, as one mate put it.
Now it’s off to have the hair done for new passport photo!