Opinion

Keep your feet off our flag

By Reader Contributed

Thongs are, among other things, a simple, lower range of sandal-like footwear — common casually complementing summer Australian clobber such as singlets and shorts.

They are basically a flat, often rubber footprint with a flexible ‘‘thong’’ coming up though the base pad, between the big and second toe anchored each side, back towards the heel — popular, perhaps frowned on at weddings and christenings and we read soon to be banned at naturalisation ceremonies.

There are many nicknames for thongs, locally and more generic.

Fifty years ago across Greater Shepparton they were almost universally referred to as Jimmy Wongs, abbreviated merely to ‘‘Jimmys’’.

In fruit picking seasons, ‘‘Queensland dancing pumps’’ — a dressed-up preference over the barefoot working choice of the itinerant banana-benders.

They have been around for a while, but what do you think of the pictured Aussie flag thong versions — and in particular what do you think of smelly, sweaty, grotty hooves denigrating, defacing and demeaning our national flag?

There are other trashed vexillologistical issues concerning the crass manufacture and wearing of the above pictures of offending ‘‘Jimmys’’ — I will save time and space.

Made in China, but you will be happy to know ‘‘designed in Australia’’ — designing thongs being such a consuming job-initiating pursuit.

By the way, the thongs cost me $3 to photograph. Those who want them (untouched by human hand), form a queue down at the resource recovery station.

My Australia Day is low-key every day. We are so lucky to live where we are.

For those celebrating on Saturday next week — the arrival of 1373 personnel, made up of 14 officials and passengers, 306 crew, 306 marines, 245 marines’ wives and 54 children, 543 male convicts, 189 female convicts together with 22 convicts’ children — have a good day, but do not forget there is a downside of rejoicing January 26.

The times, hopefully, are a-changing, but don’t hold your breath on a revolution at the Welsford St bunker, any time soon.

Grumpies back

We had just about forgotten about the ‘‘Grumpy Old Men’’ — that celebrated gaggle of council carpers disguised under a new nom de plume, Shepparton Ratepayers Association — formerly Greater Shepparton Better Local Government Association and previous to that just Better Local Government Association.

We should have recalled that there is two years until the next council election and that is when they fire up — lot of noise to little effect.

A chance gander at the Shepparton (blow you peasants from Mooroopna, Kialla, Undera et al) Ratepayers Association’s facebook page reveals that the Grumpies are claiming to be an incorporated body, but Consumer Affairs Victoria’s website indicates ‘‘no results’’ to an incorporated association search.

Some research needed there — some ‘‘better governance’’ I would say.

The other situation the Shepparton Ratepayers Association might check out is the development of what could evolve into some rivalry in the council fault-finding stakes — an anonymously-promoted Facebook throng venting their spleens on all and sundry down at city hall.

The latest post on their ‘‘Shepparton Silent No More’’ page claims to have inside info (possibly correct from a councillor reaction) that Greater Shepparton’s parking enforcement is about to be tendered out — little more possible detail, little more broad fact either.

Yep, the keyboard cowboys have gone ape with all manner of conspiratorial accusations.

Is competition a bad thing?

Can the Grumpies compete with the newest council dissident players on the block, especially if the newcomers have the intestinal fortitude to ‘‘come out’’ of the darkness of anonymity?

Sticking to script

Have you ever been to the giant hardware store out next to Shepparton Marketplace?

Of course you have.

Have you ever been there and not been cheerfully greeted by a red-shirted friendly floor assistant welcoming you with ‘‘Howya goin’?’’ — not once, not twice but innumerable times as you gather your spoils.

Figure they are trained to do that.

Just reckon the script writers could be a bit more creative — appreciate the friendliness, but wonder about the variety of conversation.

Then we catch up with a friend in the central business district for a coffee.

‘‘Thank you,’’ I say to the efficient staff as the cappuccino and skinny lattes are cheerfully delivered.

‘‘No worries,’’ comes the droll response. No worries? Hmm.

Then there is toilet nomenclature.

On the train to Melbourne: ‘‘Be back in a sec, Mum. Just going to the bathroom.’’ Are you serious, young fella? V/Line is really taking passenger comfort that extra step.

Dunno who thinks up the modern vernacular, do you.

Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.