A Sunburned Country

26 May 2016

A couple of months ago, I bought Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Country”.  I have enjoyed every Bill Bryson book I have ever read, and now that we’re moving to Australia, this one seemed like a must.

The first chapter of this book has been published in the NYTimes. Here is it:

“Flying into Australia, I realized with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister is. I am forever doing this with the Australian prime minister—committing the name to memory, forgetting it (generally more or less instantly), then feeling terribly guilty. My thinking is that there ought to be one person outside Australia who knows.”

Reading this made me smile. I do the exact same thing – dipping in and out of the political leadership of Australia – telling myself I should care who is governing that country (John Howard = bad, Julia Gillard = better).

Last week I could have told you who the Prime Minister was – a man named Tony Abbott (bad). But, then not long ago, Abbott’s party decided they didn’t want him as their leader any more, and so they booted him out. He was then replaced with a man named something-Turnbull. And this is basically all I know.  Both men belong to the “Liberal” party, which is really the conservative party.

I hope, more than anything, that Turnbull is a humanitarian. And instead of taking delight in sending boats full of people fleeing a dire situation back into the perils of the waters and on to detention centers, I hope that Turnbull welcomes them to Australia, recognizing that there is room in his country for all. After all, this sunburned country seems big enough for all to flourish.