I love pandas but I couldn’t eat a whole one
The people shuffled in, pair by pair. They clutched hands, and their eyes shimmered with excitement.
As they got within sight of the object of their worship, cameras snapped frantically. One woman, in the middle of a crowd of people on a sunny summer day, started crying. Overwhelmed and transported, she smiled through her tears.
Mary MacKillop’s tomb? Nup, panda enclosure. Adelaide Zoo.
We get reeeallly excited about things down here in South Australia. At the moment it’s pandas. Big, non-shagging shaggy beasts. Cute, endangered.
The opening of the luxurious, bidet-bedecked, chilled, ambient, bamboo-clad enclosure was this week. People really went overboard. They really cried.
The arrival of the giant pandas has been heralded as being bigger than the Grand Prix. That’s the race we lost to Melbourne in what we consider to be one of the greatest injustices of all time. We’re still not over it, down here.
The pandas are meant to be bigger than Lance Armstrong, too.
They will bring the tourists and their money, and the 10-year deal will forge a stronger friendship with Beijing. That’s all good.
But there’s a fair old whack of us who just do not give a pile of panda poo. We cared at the beginning – that was months ago, when we first found out we were getting them. Pandas are sort of cool, most of us have never seen one in the flesh, it meant there was something to do in Adelaide in the months before the Fringe. The conservation side of things is worthy.
But before too long – I struggle to remember now whether it was after the twee animations appeared on our screens, after the plush toys appeared in the designer clobber, or whether it was when the Wang Wang and Funi postage stamps were announced. (Or was it the board game?)* - we just got over it.
The only thing I really want to see now is the much anticipated panda porn – but it seems Funi (yes, of course that’s the female) only wants to mate four times a year while Wang Wang is only up for it twice. Shaky odds.
Although with 24/7 Panda TV we won’t miss it if it happens.
The thing is, SA got so overexcited about the pandas we just made the whole situation deeply uncool. We do that with so many things that happen here. We’re that overeager puppy that is sort of cute until it gets so excited it wets itself and then it’s just embarrassing.
But the strange thing is, we’re not nearly so bad with the stuff that we’ve grown ourselves. We’re not so gooby with the wine and the food, the stunning hills and the sweeps of glorious beaches. We are justifiably proud of the Fringe and the Festival, of our sophisticated arts scene and our gracious urban centre, without slobbering everywhere in glee.
It’s only when it comes to interstate and international comparisons that we unleash our inner parochials. It’s when we have a shot at the world stage that we come unstuck and ruin any chance we had of looking world class.
* Wang Wang and Funi associated logos, characters and related indicia are trademarks of Adelaide Zoo. Exclusively licensed to Imagination Ventures Pty Ltd.
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