FOR­WARD THINK­ING

ROB INGRAM SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO MYTHS ABOUT COUN­TRY PEO­PLE.

Country Style - - COUNTRY EMPORIUM -

NOW LOOK HERE, it’s just not true that when an aero­plane flies over our place, the vil­lagers all rush out and point to the skies. And okay, we’re now smart enough to know that the NBN roll­out would never come this way, but we no longer think that the ‘internet’ is where we want the fi­fish to go, and that ‘lap­top’ is where the cat sleeps. I’m mak­ing this clear be­cause city folk seem to cling to the be­lief that out here we’re a lit­tle be­hind the times, a lit­tle slow to em­brace progress. I read a re­cent sur­vey — yes, a sur­pris­ing num­ber of us can read — which stated that ur­ban­ites be­lieve ru­ral folk stand in the way of in­evitable progress and are there­fore un­der­de­vel­oped and back­ward. They also be­lieve that we’re so­cially and cul­tur­ally dis­ad­van­taged — but that’s just not true, ei­ther. The Shire Coun­cil held a very nice lit­tle cer­e­mony last week­end to cel­e­brate the bless­ing of the new Bob­cat, and put on a sausage siz­zle af­ter­wards. You don’t get that in your swanky beach­front sub­urbs. Ru­ral peo­ple prob­a­bly think city dwellers fol­low trends rather than val­ues. Here’s an in­ter­est­ing thing: visit the city and seek out the crowd that is con­vinced that coun­try folk are fash­ion dags, nar­row-minded, prej­u­diced and out­moded and, dang me, they’re all wear­ing elas­tic-sided boots and mole­skins, and driv­ing ur­ban offff-road­ers with a dog hang­ing out the win­dow. City trendies have for­saken duck con­fi­fit crous­tade for the old pot roast, and de­vel­oped a taste for Bundy and Coke. Who’s fol­low­ing whom now? As I write this, our Fed­eral Trea­surer, Scott Mor­ri­son, is try­ing to con­vince a du­bi­ous nation that there’s ‘good debt’ and ‘bad debt’. My mis­sion is to con­vince you that there’s ‘bad old-fash­ioned’ and ‘good old-fash­ioned’. Bad old-fash­ioned is flflared jeans. Good old-fash­ioned are the things that city peo­ple miss and coun­try folk have never lost.

“RU­RAL PEO­PLE PROB­A­BLY THINK CITY DWELLERS FOL­LOW TRENDS RATHER THAN VAL­UES.”

Vis­i­tors from the city bite into our toma­toes, grown for flflavour, rather than long su­per­mar­ket shelf life, and say, “this is how toma­toes used to taste.” Our car­rots taste the way car­rots used to taste and our or­anges taste the way or­anges used to taste too. Re­mem­ber peas, apples and spinach? Ours taste the way they used to taste. There’s a lot of old-fash­ioned stuffff out here. Re­spect. Loy­alty. Tol­er­ance. Com­mu­nity spirit. And good old-fash­ioned val­ues... and I’m not just talk­ing real es­tate here. Pride and sat­is­fac­tion at contributing to change for the com­mon good — no mat­ter how slow it is. The ‘bump­kin’ jibes we have to put up with might just be a cover-up for the envy start­ing to be felt by those trapped on the tread­mill of hec­tic city liv­ing. Might just be an ex­pres­sion of ur­ban anx­i­ety. Maybe we re­sist growth out here, but what is grow­ing is the sus­pi­cion among a num­ber of Aus­tralians that ru­ral Aus­tralia offf­fers a higher qual­ity of life. Not be­cause of what it has, but rather be­cause of what it doesn’t have. And then there are the an­cil­lary bene­fi­fits. “Quick,” I say to The Cho­sen One, “I’m writ­ing a piece in praise of coun­try liv­ing. What do you think is the big­gest ad­van­tage?” “Didn’t run into any­one I know to­day,” she said. “Can wear the same out­fi­fit to­mor­row.”

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