Today is a weird day, celebrating or mourning the moment when Captain Arthur Philip, in command of a couple of leaking ships, made his intrepid voyage from Botany Bay to Port Jackson – a distance of about 10 km – on 26 January 1788. They decided Botany Bay wasn’t worth much, so they paddled up the coast a bit, planted a flag, fired a bent musket and called it home. For most of us, who either do not live anywhere close by the east coast, or who have no connection whatsoever with that history (my parents, for instance, came from the Netherlands), or who had their land stolen from them, it would be far better to celebrate the sickie. That is, a day you take off saying you are sick but you’re not. For example, given that today is a public holiday and yesterday was a working day, more than half of the workers in Australia took it off. Illegal? Not on your life, since the unions managed to get a certain number of ‘sick days’ (usually about 5-10 per year) onto the contract for which you don’t need a medical certificate. Fat bosses hate it, conservative politicians have tried to get rid of it (and suffered), but it means you can phone up on the day and say, ‘hey boss, feeling crook, so I can’t come in’. S/he knows you aren’t sick, you know you aren’t sick, but you still get the day off. No embarrassment, no avoiding the boss, just sand, surf, and sex socialism.
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