The Third Leader: Lucky country

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Tomorrow, as many of you will know, is Australia Day. Others, after recent events, might not care to be reminded. But it seems only right to pay tribute to the Lucky Country, particularly as all English cricket enthusiasts will agree that if we'd had a little bit of luck ourselves, the result could have been very different.

We have also just been reminded how fortunate Australians can be by the escape of Mr Eric Nerhus, who was being swallowed by a shark until, with that trademark national practicality and sangfroid, he poked it in the eye.

Evidence of that fine sense of humour and lively disregard for convention has also come from another newsmaker, Mr Nicael Holt, who has auctioned his life off on eBay. Those who think these characteristics entirely imported should remind themselves that the Aborigines call tomorrow Invasion Day.

Similarly, those who point out that the country's disproportionate aesthetic achievement is routinely overlooked should be slightly wary of a survey for Australia Day revealing that Ian Thorpe and Kylie have made Australians proudest, and that their greatest inventions are the utility truck (men) and the rotary clothes drier (women).

Favourite phrases of the land of White, Carey and Keneally included "don't get your knickers in a knot". Philosophically, I prefer this, from the great cricketer, Doug Walters, on his (then) record of 44 tins of beer on the Ashes-bound flight, Sydney-London, 1977: "I enjoy life, mate. I think you're dead a long while - that's what I was told and I haven't seen any proof of that not being right." Splendid. G'day for tomorrow.

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