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Inthe prime minister chose Driza-Bone coats for the traditional photo at the end of the meeting of leaders from the Asia-Pacific. It had somehow become usual for the host of the summit to compel the other leaders to dress up in the location's national costume. They wore bomber jackets in Canadasilken gowns Korea and Vietnam and ponchos Peru. And so the traditional stockman's coat seemed right for Australia, and there they were - Putin, Bush, Helen Clark of New Zealand and the rest - garbed in Driza-Bone coats - the national dress of Australia.
A pair of classic rubber Aussie thongs. Picture: Supplied.
Except it wasn't. It's obvious to an outsider that the true national garment of Australia is: thongs. Not the kind of thongs worn by the Girl from Ipanema on the Rio beach as a dental floss bikini, but what the rest of the English speaking world knows as uncomfortable flip-flops. In New Zealand, they're known as "jandals" - short for "Japanese sandals" - while the South Africans call them slops.
Hawaiians and Indians call them "slippers", and in Ghana, they're known, intriguingly, as "charlie wote". But here on the high Limestone Plains, as the temperature drops towards freezing, those pieces of rubber we call thongs stay on.
It's not as though Aussies aren't in good company, globally speaking. A year-old pair found in Europe was made of papyrus leaves. Africans, meanwhile, used rawhide, while Indians used wood. The Ancient Greeks and Romans wore versions of flip-flops as well.
It caught on in the s during the postwar boom and after the end of hostilities of the Korean War. A search also uncovers a minor controversy inwhen some members of Northwestern University's national champion women's lacrosse team visited the White House wearing flip-flops. But then, inwhile vacationing in his native Hawaii, Barack Obama became the first President of the United States to be photographed wearing a pair. The Dalai Lama of Tibet is also a frequent wearer. The Driza-Bone is also quintessentially Australian. Meanwhile, in Queanbeyan this week, a man on a motorbike wore thongs and shorts.
The dog in his side-car continued to bark, as he always does, minute in and minute out, and the dress of the driver remained unchanged through the seasons. Thongs on a motorbike. Throughout Australia, there are men who wear thongs in the coldest of weather, and women who wear them on the work commute, or sauntering through shopping malls. It is a mystery. Is it some kind of macho thing?
In which case, get over it.
Is it that Australians still don't really believe that Australia is cold so they assume that warmth is just about to break out? I have seen Australians in Heathrow airport, emerging from QF1, the Qantas flight from Sydney in the middle of a British winter, dressed in It was one of the images which helped me fall in love with Australia. Here were these exotics who lived eternally on the beach, so much so that they had no other dress apart from beach wear.
Their optimism shone as brightly as the Bondi sun. Barnaby Joyce in his Akubra hat. Picture: AAP. These men in shorts and wrap-around sunglasses with beach-bleached blond hair would head for their first bar job in a Walkabout in Earl's Court and then on to the Munich Beer Festival and the Pamplona bull run wearing a smile and thongs.
Their sunny disposition was the polar opposite of my gloomy Welsh one if it's not raining now, it's probably just about to be. Britain is always getting wrong-footed by the weather.
Barely a winter passes without some sort of railway shutdown because the unsurprising weather surprises the network managers. Some hapless bureaucrat is pushed before the cameras to explain that the problem was "the wrong sort of rain or snow" or "leaves on the track".
In seriously cold countries, you rarely feel cold. Canadians know their winters can kill so they have insulation and heating. Australians, on the other hand, don't seem to believe the evidence of their tingling toes. An absence of sun can only be temporary, even if that absence is annual and lasts for three months and is called winter.
So the thongs stay on. They should be deated officially as the footwear of the Australian national costume. We wear clothes as badges, to send a al about how we like to be perceived. John Howard liked to wear an Akubra as broad as a veranda, but it said to voters that he, a Sydney lawyer, was not really one of those flashy city types. RM Williams boots. Barnaby Joyce does the same - he may have trained as an ant but the trademark Akubra says "grounded in the pastures of New England". Interestingly, Scott Morrison tends to wear a baseball cap, the true headgear of the people.
Tony Abbott wore budgie smugglers but that's another story. And Julie Bishop wore red shoes but that, too, is another story.
Thongs are what they should wear if they want to exude true authenticity. They have competition from R. Williams, the boot maker. It has that mythical Akubara-like rural aura despite its part ownership in Singapore. We recently suffered the Eurovision Song Contest. It is as clear as the Telstra Tower that Australia is wasting its time there. But if they changed the rules, it might work. The International Thong Competition.
I know of some sure-footed winners. Your ad blocker may be preventing you from being able to log in or subscribe. Home News Latest News. John Howard got it wrong. But thongs represent the true spirit of working-class urban Australia. In Queanbeyan this week, a man on a motorbike wore thongs and shorts Ad blocker issue Your ad blocker may be preventing you from being able to log in or subscribe.Love Australia thong
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