Whaddaya think this is – Bush Week?

A modified version of this was first published in The New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News on 9.9.22.

Bush Week is that fictitious 7-day period during which the normal rules of dress and etiquette are relaxed in order that supposedly rough-mannered Australian countryfolk visiting The Big Smoke might feel more at home.

When I was a kid there was all sorts of behaviour theoretically deemed acceptable only during Bush Week: wearing thongs in the street, putting your elbows on the table, talking with your mouth full, drinking straight from a bottle, picking your nose, wearing a hat indoors (for blokes), not wearing a hat outdoors (ditto), putting on lipstick in public (blokes or sheilas), breaking wind audibly, letting your bra strap show (sheilas) or your bum crack (blokes), eating with your fingers, taking booze home from a party etc etc etc … you get the picture.

The kind of thing you can only get away with in Bush Week

Any instance of this kind of thing might call forth a query from parent, wife, husband, boss, teacher or mate as to whether the offender (mistakenly) thought it was currently Bush Week. This sarcastic tradition is still warranted, in my view, for most of the faux pas listed above, except that hat-wearing for gentlemen is now a matter of personal fashion choice and has nothing to do with manners, and of course we no longer stigmatize people from Rural or Regional Australia (as we must now call The Bush) by suggesting that only they are prone to boorish behaviour.

This mob obviously thinks it’s Bush Week.

Other Days and Weeks

September 9, the day this was originally published, happens to be International Sudoku Day.

These days every conceivable cause known to humankind has a Day or a Week or a Month devoted to it.  I tried to make a comprehensive list a few years ago, but gave up in the end because things kept dropping out or moving. 

September is full of Days and Weeks.  The first week in September is Asthma Week.  Yesterday was International Literacy Day, and tomorrow will be World Suicide Prevention Day.  September also gives us World Rhino Day and World Sign Languages Day, and there are Days for Adult Learners, Autism, Child Protection, Glaucoma, Engineering, Legacy, Landcare, National Forest Martyrs, Red Pandas, Skyscrapers, Safe Sex and Senior Citizens. 

Oops – I’ve left out bamboo, bosses, cats, coconuts and wattle.  And I’ve just learned of a newie: Falsely Accused Day.  It’s just had its first outing, and will henceforth recur, on September 9.   

September is also the awareness Month for Alzheimer’s, blood cancer, alopecia areata, better breakfasts, early childhood educators and indigenous literacy.   

Not all months are as chock-full of awareness-raising as September is.  With only 12 months, 52 weeks and 365 days to choose from, you might expect that these campaigns would be spread evenly over the year, wouldn’t you?

No.  Not all dates are equally desirable, alas.  

For obvious reasons there’s not much awareness action around Christmas or New year.  When I first started counting, January had only Flea Awareness Week.  One lousy week (no pun intended)!  But fleas have since been moved to August, and now claim the whole month, possibly because they’ve been joined by ticks.   

So August is now Flea and Tick Awareness Month, and also has Days or Weeks asking us to think about healthy bones, continence, deafness, infertility, spina bifida and local government. 

The next most threadbare is December, with disability, human rights, volunteers and ocean care (theme:  Our Seas – Shore Worth Saving!)  It does have International AIDS Day, which is a rare fixed date – many of them shift and slide about, jockeying for weekends or holidays, while others double-dip with a Day here, and a whole Week six months later!   

AIDS Week, for instance, is in November, which also has Weeks for Save the Children, Crohn’s & Colitis, bikes and spinal cord injuries.  And it has World Diabetes Day. 

I would have included Navy Week in November but it now moves around the calendar depending on which state or territory it’s in.  This mobility confounds those of us trying to keep a tally of all this awareness-raising. 

November is especially fickle.  It once hosted awareness weeks for X-Rays, Veteran’s Health, Physiotherapy and Skin Cancer, but I can’t seem to find them there now.  Some have undoubtedly shifted to a more fruitful spot, calendarically speaking.  This does happen. 

Autumn and winter are lighter on for awareness-raising, as you might expect.  March, April, June and July collectively cover architecture, bicycles, books, dentistry, environment, hepatitis C, influenza, Kidsafe, medical research, menopause, meteorology, motor neurone disease, the National Trust, oral health, population, refugees, smoke awareness, speech pathology, trees, twins and wool.

Trees…they had a whole year devoted to them once.  But don’t get me started on International Years – that’s a whole new column right there!

Interestingly for an autumnal month, May gives a respectable showing:  acquired brain injury, charity, chiropractic care, chronic fatigue syndrome, circuses, diversional therapy, financial planning, guides, heart health, law, midwives, migraine, mothering, museums, neighbourhood centres, nurses, pain management, quit (as in smoking), schizophrenia, and Tourette’s syndrome.  Twenty in all. 

But still no match for the winner.  The envelope please.  Drum roll….tish-boom!  Yes, it’s October, featuring no less than 34 occasions on which we are urged to consider this or remember that.  For one thing, it’s Breastfeeding, Motorcycle Awareness and National Stamp-Collecting Month. 

It also contains Days for Amnesty, anaesthesia, animals, breast cancer, children, community, drowning prevention, food, grandparents, playgroup awareness (a refugee from May) and teachers. 

It’s got weeks galore:  libraries and foot health have also defected from May, and October still finds time to mark carers, crime stoppers, cystic fibrosis, fire awareness, frogs, Make-a-Wish, mental health, pets, phys ed, occupational therapy, scuba diving, St John Ambulance, stroke, stuttering, tenancy, water, workplace safety and one of my all-time favourites:  Wave Goodbye to Worms Week.