Wherever you go right now in the clean minitropolis of Perth, Western Australia, it's beginning to feel a lot like CHOGM. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting has rolled into town. It hasn't started officially, but like the precursors of another well-loved festival–the Yuletide tinsel and fruit mince pies already in Coles and Woolworths–there are early signs that a great event in about to explode on our West Coast Zeitgeist.
There is a literal sign on the city's Esplanade. In large letters it spells out PERTH. It is scaled to be viewable from the new Kings Park Reception Centre. This labelling will be particularly helpful for international visitors for whom Perth is but one stopover among many.
Hipsters have already derided the PERTH sign for its naffness.That it feels like a visual pinch from the famous Hollywood sign has been a common theme. The perceived try-harness of this installation; its corporate or municipal utility and lack of flair are common threads of the criticism. I think this misses the point, somewhat. The real problem is the sound of the word. Perth. Maybe it has more music about it when rendered in its original Scottish brogue, but as a flat, dry Aussie-accented utterance it wants for poetry.
For mine, Perth might be more effectively named Jayden or perhaps Brant. Either of these manifested in unfeasibly large lettering visible from a high vantage point would give our city a zing and sizzle the original whitefella name lacks.
The highlight of this CHOGM fest for me and other Perthites will be the opportunity to glimpse Elizabeth Windsor, our own dear Queen, passing by at speed in a motorcade with her gaffe-prone consort, the somewhat racist Duke of Edinburgh, at her side. We, loyal subjects to a person, will be watching in a colonial trance whilst chowing down on two dollar sausages BBQ'd and sold for charity.
This takes a favourite weekend activity in our city, sneaking in a snag on a trip to a Bunnings hardware megastore and adds to it a sense of pageantry and history. As good as it is to descend on a Bunnings in search of dynabolts, rawl plugs and the perfect handles for the bathroom vanity, it rarely leads to the opportunity to glimpse a monarch of any kind, much less our head of state and the Church of England.
As for the talk fest that involves the 50 plus heads of government that form the Commonwealth of Nations formerly the British Commonwealth formerly The British Empire, the less said the better. Is it like a rather awkward school reunion where all parties discover how far they've grown apart? Probably not.
Roll on CHOGM, 2011