Today is Australia Day. Recent custom suggests we are supposed to be having a barbeque to celebrate, though we had one last night, and called in the neighbours at the last minute, only to remember that Dokic was playing in the fourth round. Andy (Alan's temporary tenant) and Sophie (Alan's friend) don't follow the tennis, but Alan came in and watched the end of the first set with us. I was thrilled to see her win in three hard-fought sets, appalled to see the replays of her rolling over on her ankle at 7-6 in the third, but equally appalled at the crowd who lost its composure in the last game and cheered when Klebanova missed her serve, then equally loudly shooshed each other (itself, I guess). Given she played her best points to echoing silence from a packed arena, I thought the Russian showed a remarkable temperament, but I'm just so impressed with Dokic's composure and concentration. According to the press in Serbia who have hunted him down, her father is threatening to come to Melbourne if she makes the final. Judging from the crowd support, I think Australians would link arms at the immigration desk to stop him coming in and messing with her head again.
Today's medievalism is a bit oblique. I was listening to the radio while making coffee before (I'm reading drafts of ARC applications today; and a girl needs a break now and then), and they were taking talkback on the moment listeners came to love their country, and one woman recounted an experience I have had many times. She was flying to Alice Springs and looked out the window to see the vast expanses of red beneath her, and realised she loved her home. How many times have I climbed aboard a plane in a cold London night and fallen asleep to wake at 4 in the morning and look out to see a pale blue sky over the reddening rosy expanses beneath me. You go for hours, looking down, and barely seeing a road or a light. The wide brown land, indeed.
Why is this medievalist? Angela Catterns on the radio replied to this woman, and said, yes, it was a spiritual experience, like going into one of the great cathedrals in Europe. And there it was: the direct and easy equivalence between medieval spiritual heritage and the sacredness of land. Or home. This is, of course, quite different from indigenous notion of sacredness and custodianship. But in the sense that this vision of the red heart of the country takes your heart and soul into a different place, it's interesting to me that the analogy for this lifting out of the self is drawn from the medieval European past.