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My blog is on holiday today

It is a public holiday today on the East coast of Australia and given I am part of the public I have decided it will be a blog holiday too. The truth is that I am travelling a lot today and will drop into the football in Sydney on the way. I will be back tomorrow.

So why are we on holiday today in (most of) Australia?

The reason for the holiday is that it is the official birthday of the Queen of England, which is different to being her actual birthday.

(Cartoon by Corrigan, 2006).

The latter is on April 21 and the former was designated in June because it is “when the British weather is more conducive to outdoor celebrations” (Source).

Which just about summarises the situation.

The date of the celebration when all Commonwealth countries, that have not had the sense to become Republics – like Australia, choose to mark the ‘Queen’s birthday’, is chosen to be convenient to the British people, not their own populations.

And the countries that celebrate this day other than Britain are – (stupid) Australia, New Zealand and Fiji – all southern hemisphere nations which means our holiday is in the middle of winter and hardly the time to go outside for a celebration.

Australia tried to become a republic in a Australian republic referendum – which was held on November 6, 1999.

The Conservative federal government, which hated the idea of becoming a republic, craftily worded the referendum to ensure it would fail.

In Australia we need a majority of voters in a majority of states to change the Constitution.

The Government of the day knew that there was an overwhelming majority of voters in the majority of states in favour of abandoning the British monarchy and choosing for Australia to become a republic. Maturity that is.

But they also knew that within that overwhelming majority there was a massive division about how the new head of state should be appointed.

So the wording of the referendum proposal was not confined to the question of should Australia become a republic – which would have succeeded.

It also added to that question the rider that the new “President … [should be] … appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.”

This option was favoured by a minority of the majority of Yes voters, which means that the sum of the No voters and the other would be Yes voters saw the referendum fail.


Anyway, as a Republican I am taking the holiday and like most Australians don’t relate it at all to what is happening in the British isles.

Our only concern for events there at the moment is the embarassing display from our Prime Minister about vaccination rates and climate change response. He is attending the G7 meeting and showing the world how backward our nation has become under the years of conservative rule.

Music – One can never have enough Jazz

This is what I will be listening to while travelling this morning.

I have written about French composer and pianist Erik Satie (1866-1925) – previously.

His famous three Gymnopédies are a delight to play on piano – deceptively simple but devilish if you want to get the tempo correct.

Please read my blog post – Progressive political leadership is absent but required (October 24, 2018) – for more detail.

His six Gnossiennes were also highlights of his folio of compositions.

Erik Satie was a genius and can be accorded the status of a post minimalist 100 years before its time. That is the way I see his compositions.

I should add that I am currently content trying to play Eric Satie’s piano pieces as they were originally intended rather than try to pursue contemporary, jazz-style interpretations.

I will leave that to the wonderful – Jacques Loussier – who I first heard in the 1970s when I was learning Bach’s Bourrée in E Minor for Guitar.

I was in a record shop and talking to the sales person who knew almost everything about everything music (at least that was the impression I had when I talked to him).

I told him about my experiments with Bach on classical guitar as I was buying a jazz album by Gato Barbieri and he told me about the – Jacques Loussier Trio – who in the 1960s had become famous for their interpretations and jazz arrangements of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and other Baroque music.

He succeeded in incorporating the essential characteristics of these pieces into a jazz arrangements, with double bass and drums to complement his wonderful piano playing.

And that is what we are listening to today.

Here is the Trio’s interpretation of the first Trois Gnossiennes from Erik Satie:

I. Lent.
II. Avec étonnement.
III. Lent.

We will be back tomorrow.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2021 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Meanwhile, let me point out (writing from England) that it is NOT a public holiday in any of the nations that make up the United Kingdom, and in general it is hardly noticed, let alone widely celebrated, regardess of the weather being “conducive to outdoor celebrations”.

  2. “And the countries that celebrate this day other than Britain”

    What’s funny is that we don’t. All we get is a note that it is “Trooping the Colour” on the calendar and a list of people who are getting gongs reported in the papers. I doubt anybody under 50 even realises what it is.

    There was far more celebration when Sterling put one past Croatia than when he got his gong. But then the sun was shining and that doesn’t happen often here.

  3. NZ beat you to it as we had the Royal Birthday last week.
    I also enjoyed the cricket NZ v England too 🙂

  4. Naughty Professor, you know Liz is the Queen of the UK (and 16 other Commonwealth realms). Commonwealth haha. ‘Queen of England’ is almost on a par with the latest Macronist insult.
    As Neil says, here in the UK, we the people don’t get a day off for the Queen’s official birthday, but neither do we get a day off for International Workers’ Day. We do get Bank Holidays though. Saturday evening’s terrestrial TV alternative to watching the birthday pomp was Princess Anne: The 7 lives of her life or, the childhood of Queen Vic’s grandson (Kaiser Bill) or a Palin travelogue, a Euro football match or Pointless. Pointless is actually quite entertaining to be fair, as is Palin. Not quite sure what England were doing in the cricket (apart from the long established batting collapse) resting first choice players so that they could play cricket elsewhere while still being paid a Test salary.

  5. Love the cartoon, Bill. I, too, am a fan of Satie. While I no longer play the piano, I can imagine the complexities involved in the works. If you listen closely, it is possible to almost hear them. Thanks for the clip as I have never heard of the Jacques Loussier Trio.

    Have fun.

  6. “here in the UK, we the people don’t get a day off for the Queen’s official birthday”

    Unless you’re a civil servant, then you do. It’s called a ‘privilege day’ and usually rolled onto the end of the Spring Bank Holiday. Which is why you can never get hold of a civil servant on the Tuesday.

    The government haven’t been able to get rid of that day because it is granted directly by the Monarch to those who work in government and the government doesn’t have the authority to eliminate it.

    And that is a genuine TIL. There’s always another wrinkle to learn in our crazy system.

  7. I have very little knowledge of Australian history.

    I just read up a little bit regarding this. Apparently the British queen is still formally head of state of Australia and so on. My neighbor Canada celebrates Victoria’s birthday.

    Its surprising but not surprising at the same time.

  8. @ Tom Y. Re: ‘Apparently the British queen is still formally head of state of Australia and so on’. Thanks for bringing happy pre-covid memories of my Chinese students who liked to bring lists of uncertainly related items to a swift end with ‘and so on’.
    @ Neil Wilson. Thanks for bringing back memories of my Civil Servant days of Privilege.

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