My favourite gag about Sydney-Melbourne rivalries goes like this: "If someone in Sydney has an idea, they throw a party; in Melbourne, they start a journal."
Further grist to this particular mill is provided with UNESCO's announcement that Melbourne is to be the new City of Literature, following up on Edinburgh's achievement in 2004.
Of course this is all falling into the background behind the Olympics, and especially behind Sally ("Oh my God, is this real? You've got to be kidding me, right? Did you see me? Did you see how pumped I was? I was more pumped than I've ever been in my life. Shit, I could see a girl passing me but kept running my own race. Amazing. I can't believe it.") McLellan's unexpected (she was supposed just to be getting some experience) silver medal in the hurdles, but how these things do chase each other around the world.
England and Australia have always had tremendous sporting rivalries, most notably in cricket, and our sports minister, Kate Ellis, was foolish enough to bet we would do better than the UK in Beijing, vowing she would wear the union jack colours to the next sporting event if the Brits did better than we did. They are creaming us! But of course, our coaches have been poached by China and the UK, paying them more than Australia can or will afford for their expertise. I gather, too, that the UK has been diverting lottery money away from the arts and into their sporting programmes. Yeah, but we've got a city of literature now!
Amid all the talk of international rivalries, and the new country of Phelpsville (which on the medal-per-head-of-population chart would look pretty incredible), a number of commentators here are talking about the brilliant success of Australian women, compared to our men. It's also the case that most of them come from Queensland. So I'm proposing a new state of Femenye (I'm teaching The Knight's Tale this morning). They don't even have to change the name: just enter women from the northern state in their own right. Problem solved!