Monday, 24 November 2008

On the trail of some family history...

So I went looking online for some information about my Grandfather, Clayvel 'Jack' Badcock, just to see what sort of a write-up he's got.
There's a great image of him on a 1930's cigarette card...

Its got me thinking a lot about the whole Australian obsession with sport(s) and how different, and in fact 'opposite' French culture is with its grand tradition of Art, Intellectualism and Beautiful Objects!
Australians seem to feel more comfortable with the humility and humble state of the human condition, always seemingly aiming for homogeny and the safety of mainstream popular culture. Why are we such an insecure culture? Why always a trend towards wanting to be someone else, or deriding our own points of origin...?

I think also it's the fact that I'm in Melbourne at the moment and it's a city which always makes me aware of the power of conservatism, even in the most multicultural of metropolitan environments! I keep seeing pairs or groups of people, men, women, kids...all dressed as each other, matching! Is life so very frightening that people here feel that safety is in wearing black, or copying Paris Hilton's latest Long-cardigan-and-slim-jeans-and-long-leather-boots-with-a-floppy-cap-and-big-shoulder-bag look?!

This brings me back to the floppy cap...the Baggy Green cricket cap my Grandfather is wearing in another of his Cigarette Card portraits (not included here). Its an iconic garment/accessory and its function is more symbolic than physical. I think of the two my Grandfather had, my cousin has one and the other is in the National Cricket Museum, if such a thing exists...I cannot remember where it is.

I have his travelling trunk from the 1938 World Tour to England via Europe and Egypt. If anyone is interested, my Grandfather made a silent film of the whole trip which is in the National Film Archives and has been put on video. Its a really fascinating documented event...and my Grandfather being the sparky provocateur he was, has spliced in shorts of the local Cataract Gorge in Launceston when it was in flood...right in the middle of the Swiss Alps!!

So I think what I'm really pondering here is how and where do I fit in to all of this...and how can it benefit the Teacosy* Revolution?!

There are aspects of my Grandfather's story that inspire me and that I wish to adopt and assimilate into the Revolution in order to keep a sense of diversity and inclusiveness, especially where sport is concerned...and yet it must not dominate the Revolution (the sport, that is!)...I will weave together a magic combination of Australian and French cultural sensibilities to create my ever growing Teacosy* Revolution Manifesto...which I really want some time to work on and get can be quite frustrating like this sometimes!

So we raise our tea cups to all the women and men in sport, and especially cricket, as they break for tea, mid-match, and enjoy the socio-cultural patina of an iconic pastime...Here's to you, Gamp*!

*Gamp was the name his first Grandchild gave Cleyvel 'Jack' Badcock, of Exton, Tasmania in the late 1960's!


Fer said...

I think that the French have more national pride because they had a revolution (and plenty of wars), whereas Australians are to some degree made up of a convict past where 'tall poppies' weren't tolerated. This mentality seems to have become ingrained into our DNA. I think we're only allowed to show pride in our country on ANZAC Day.

I love the image of Gamp - I had no idea he made it to cigarette cards! I think his second baggy green and blazer are in the sports museum at the cricket ground in Hobart, Mum will know though.

Incorporating images of cricket into teacosies conjures up images of the crocheted tablecloths and doilies showing batsmen in full swing instead of kookaburras and kangaroos.

a good yarn said...

Australia is such a young nation; we are still forging our identity in a time when globalised culture dominates.

The French have undergone many transformations - perhpas the worst being the Revolution and its appalling savegery. Yet it gave rise to Napolean's cultural and education revolution.

It is because we are young that we are so unsure of ourselves; because of our diversity that we struggle to coalesce our identity.

Sport is revered because it is a great leveller. One's prowess and ability are not determined by class or finances.

It should also be remembered that sporting events were usually cheaper to attend than the theatre and concerts. Especially during the Depression.

For a variety of reasons, many people need the secutiry of belonging - to whichever group they align themselves, wearing whichever *uniform* that identifies them to others and that includes the avant garde. It takes a great deal of courage to be an independent thinker.

The baggy cap is , of course, a borrowed icon - from the British, as is cricket.

Your grandfather obviously had character, an element of the radical about him perhaps. He may well have more in common with the Revoultion than you had imagined.

I'll join you in that tea...sip...aaahhhh!

Cheers, Ann.

The Exton Gardener said...

I've always loved the Japanese take on Australia - "Those classic over-achievers in sports..." The trouble for Australia seems to have been that Europe has already achieved it all in the way of culture and the US has achieved economic superiority so what is there left for Australia with its late starting date and irreverence for authority? Just beat them at their own games of the short term variety - i.e. sports. Instant gratification and you don't need centuries to achieve it. WW1 showed that we could fight wars as well as anyone, given our small population and lack of resources so what better in peacetime than to make war on the cricket pitch!