David Smerdon | December 31, 2012 15:01

Dear Europe

Burleigh Beach, Queensland, Australia
Post scheduled to upload at: 00.01, January 1, 2013
(Amsterdam/Paris: 15.01, December 31, 2012)

Dear Europe,

I’m writing this brief note to you from Burleigh Beach, Australia, where I’m holidaying to escape your winter and to bring in the new year.

Tonight also marked my first full calendar year as a resident in your continent. It’s been a period of change and of rugged yet gradual integration into your way of life. I must admit, at times it’s been tough: you’ve often left me feeling on the back foot, lacking in culture, unrefined, and so very, very un-European.

I’ve never been much of a man for fashion, but your European style (and judgment of those who lack it) did at times leave me feeling wholly inadequate. I recall fondly that trip to Paris where my entrance to my very first French party was met with the suggestion, “We don’t like your jeans. They’re too baggy.”

Or the friendly advice from my friends in London that my winter jacket made me look like a homeless ninja-turtle – while I still take it as a compliment, I’ve since realised that a man who lives in Europe has certain cultural obligations. You’ll be happy to know that in an extravagantly consumerist 2012, I literally doubled my wardrobe (I bought a second pair of shoes, and a pair of jeans).

I’ve also learned something of the value of art.  For example, thanks to the exceptional modern art galleries of London, Paris and Amsterdam, a wall painted entirely blue should be taken as a biting criticism of capitalism and the perils of technological progress, and thus should certainly be worth half a million dollars. I’ve learned that comments such as “This guy must have been tripping something chronic” are not an appropriate way to comment on van Gogh’s work – at least not out loud. And I’ve learned through tasteful suggestion that dancing ‘Gangnam-style’ on tables in restaurants is perhaps not quite the ‘expression of world music’ I claim it to be.

Truth be told, I still don’t realise why detachable shower heads are so very vital to the showering experience, but at least I’m now aware of it. I’m also now aware that the European Football Championships is a soccer event, and that apparently the Dutch and the German teams haven’t always been friends. You’ve taught me how to put up with second hand smoke in small, windowless bars, and that the best beer in the world is almost always without question that brewed in the city in which I’m currently drinking. While I haven’t quite learned the correct pronunciation of Italian beverages, I’m now oh so aware that my Aussie-drawl articulation “Maa-key-arr-tow” and “Caa-par-chee-na” are perhaps not as pleasant to the ears as I would have people believe.

It’s been a period of change, dear Europe, in adapting to your ways. You’re a complicated beast, and I’m perhaps a little less refined than your average Euro-spawn, but I’m learning, and growing. And I like you, I have to say. We can be friends.

But despite my peaceful resolution to learn ever more about you in this exciting new year, let me take this brief opportunity to fire something back at you. It’s not much, but it’s all I have, and it’s at least undisputable. For here on the beach on New Year’s Day in Australia, I may always be behind in your view of fashion and style (or in fact shirts), nor have a real barista or an arty rock worth thousands of dollars anywhere nearby. But I do have a timezone, and in that I’m at least ahead, having just seen in 2013 with the rest of my compatriots. And so for now and for the next few hours, at least, I want you to think about this.

You are SO 2012.


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David Smerdon's picture
Author: David Smerdon

David Smerdon is a chess grandmaster from Brisbane, Australia. David attended Anglican Church Grammar School and Melbourne University. To qualify for the title of Grandmaster, a player must achieve three Grandmaster norm performances, and a FIDE Elo rating over 2500. Late in 2007, Smerdon achieved his third and final Grandmaster norm. In the July 2009 FIDE rating list his rating passed 2500, so he qualified for the title of Grandmaster. He is the fourth Australian to become a Grandmaster, after Ian Rogers, Darryl Johansen and Zhao Zong-Yuan. In 2009, Smerdon won the Queenstown Chess Classic tournament.

Source: Wikipedia




europatzer's picture

So ...you swapped brussel sprouts and turkey for red back spiders and yellow speedos

AAR's picture

It would be interesting if CV blogs revolves even remotely around Chess.

Anonymous's picture

awesome blog ;)

lolo's picture

awesome blog ;)

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