Thursday, May 07, 2009

When once a knight isn't enough

I have stayed home today to try to finally break this flue.

One of those silly conversations with daughter Clare who is at home finishing a university essay. The Monty Pythons' sketch involving the fictitious philosophy department at the University of Woolloomooloo triggered the conversation.

Clare is quite obsessed with MP, an obsession that carried over into the recent Macquarie University Ancient History Society review. Who can resist the drinkers' song?

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.

David Hume could out-consume
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,

And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

While the sketch has very English perceptions of Australia, it is still funny.

The discussion led Clare to remark that she wanted a knighthood. I said that she would need to go to New Zealand since they had just reintroduced the imperial honours system. Apparently nobody recognised New Zealand honours.

Then I thought hang on, isn't there an equivalent in the Order of Australia?

I actually had to look this up.

When this new order of chivalry was established by the Queen on 14 November 1975 at the request of the then Whitlam Government to replace the old imperial system, it had just three levels - Companion (AC), Officer (AO) and Member (AM). Following the defeat of the Whitlam Government, on 24 May 1976, the further categories of Knight (AK), Dame (AD), and Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) were established by the Queen on the advice of Mr Whitlam's successor Malcolm Fraser. The following Hawke Labor Government then abolished the Knight and Dame categories.

So Clare still has to go to New Zealand. However, there is another problem. Clare wants to be called Sir Clare, not Lady Clare (that's too pissy) or Dame Clare (that's too old). To this end, she needs the Queen to change the rules. In theory, this could be done by the Queen as Queen of Australia. However, given the Australian attitude to honours she really needs to go to the UK and seek the Queen's assistance in her right as Queen of Great Britain. Hard, but not impossible if she becomes a super successful writer.

In the meantime, and this bears upon the recent New Zealand decision to go back to imperial honours, who is likely to get the best seating in a New York restaurant, Sir Michael Somare or his Australian equivalent carrying a mere AC?

So to finish with the rest of the song:

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya
'Bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.

Plato, they say, could stick it away--
Half a crate of whisky every day.

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle.
Hobbes was fond of his dram,

And René Descartes was a drunken fart.
'I drink, therefore I am.'

Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed,
A lovely little thinker,
But a bugger when he's pissed.


Anonymous said...

As I recall, all the members of the Philosophy Department of the University of Wooloomooloo (are there too many 'o's there?) were called Bruce.

Here is a link to a live performance of the song.

I hope you are going to answer the question about Somare.

There is a delicious irony in the fact that as soon as they have achieved independence, the new rulers of these ex colonies hasten to confer imperial titles on themselves.

Jim Belshaw said...

Yes, Anon, Bruce ruled universal! The o's are right, I think. There is an issue round the l's.

Will add the you tube link later.

Sir Michael, of course. I agree with you on the irony. In fact, I love it!