Dan and I Visit Open Day At The South Australian Governor's House
Dan and I visited the governor's house on March 29 2009 and here are the most memorable aspects:
The governor of South Australia has lots of mirrors in his house. "Because," Dan says, "he needs to make sure he looks good all the time."
All the art is either distinguished portraiture or realistic landscapes. Why? We decided between us that it has been decorated by previous governors, with a consideration of the taste of future ones and the dignity of the previous ones; and if it is bland it is nevertheless in excellent taste.
We come across two unfortunate activist friends in the ballroom. Their suits are too tight; they seem puffed up a little with anxiety; unfortunately, their tight suits are matching green and maroon.
They show us their document, which is unintelligible. It asks immediately for something undefined for big group of people. It uses exclamation marks and the words "we demand". Like I said, unfortunate.
I hand it back and smoothly lie: "It's clearly written."
"It's been through many drafts," they tell us, "We're going to present it to the governor today."
Dan, fortunately, has noticed something shiny which requires we attend to it instead of arguing with fanatics. I reckon Dan's social graces make Michelle Obama's seem gauche.
Out in the yard a crowd of about forty tourists have gathered around a tree where two Kookaburras laugh. Other nations have governors' maisons galore, but no hilarious avians. The crowd is still there discussing the event excitedly when we leave.
The pool is meagre - private enough for a nudie dip, but not large enough for embarrasingly fatal set of swimming laps while drunk.
I spot the Great Books of the Western World in the main office, with great satisfaction. The office is roped and officiated.
"What does the governor do?" I ask the official.
He rambles about presiding over occasions requiring a show of pomp domestick. I nod until he lapses into silence, and for a few more seconds while he looks at me.
"He's a figurehead really," the official says sadly.
"And what," I ask, "does he symbolise? What values or ideas?"
He surprises and delights me by giving a really great reply:
"The governor symbolises the Westminster System of law. He stamps all the legislation that goes through State Parliament, just as the governor general stamps legislation through Federal Parliament."
"Cool.. thanks mate!" I tell him. His reply inspires me with considerable respect for the position of state governor.
Later Dan spots in the ballroom a little man in a shiny suit puffed up anxiously into his shoulders and chest half bowing as he shakes old ladies hands who cluster around in a dense cloud of perfume. Dan whispers "It's the governor!" and I spare him a glance.
But respect goes to principles not people. And I have already met the governor in my conversation with the official in the office.