The Queen of Where?

On all that’s decent and proper, would someone take Craig Lord out of circulation for a month and buy him a course in Journalism 101? His insufferable smugness has reared its head again in the Swimnews article describing Don Talbot’s Queen’s Birthday award.

Talbot is an Australian. He is certainly one of the world’s best and most successful swim coaches. He coached in Australia and Canada for years before becoming the AIS Head Coach and finally Australia’s national coach. He probably hasn’t kept count of the number of Olympians he’s helped. Three facts probably not so well known are that Jan Cameron the current New Zealand national coach was Talbot’s wife. Their son was New Zealand’s best backstroke swimmer and swam for a year at Auburn University in the U.S. He represented New Zealand at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. But above and beyond all that I swam in Talbot’s Sydney team for two summers. Sadly, I was not one of his stars. However, his ethic of honest toil, hard work and fairness is something impossible to forget and very difficult to match.

During my first morning in his squad, Talbot announced the warm up included a 400 butterfly. I explained that I didn’t do 400s butterfly. “Well now’s a good time to learn,” he growled. Later in that first week and after practice, he was scolding me for not swimming hard enough. When he was annoyed he had the disturbing habit of poking you in the chest with his tough Australian fingers. I backed away from the assault and fell, fully clothed into the pool. I surfaced to find Talbot still explaining the error of my training ways. He probably thought I should do the 400 bloody fly again.

Talbot wasn’t all discipline and anger though. I asked him once what he would do with a problem swimmer I was coaching. What I wanted to hear was get tough, tell her to sort herself out, that sort of thing. Instead the fearsome Talbot said she may just be having a bad day, give her some time and see what happens. Tough but fair, that’s how I found him.

Anyway back to Craig Lord. He says quite rightly that Talbot has received the award “not a moment before it was due”. That’s certainly right. Often straight talking buggers like Talbot don’t get Queen’s honors. They’re usually reserved for those who achieve in a more acceptable, genteel way.

But then Lord goes on to say that Talbot “has been named an Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours (that’s the Queen of England, for those who live in other worlds, and the honours are given in her name, honorees proposed, in this case, by Australia).”

Now what really upsets colonials like me is when a pom, that’s what we call the English, a race noted for their unbearable international arrogance, claim our bloody Queen. “That’s the Queen of England” he says. No she’s not. In the context of Talbot’s award she’s the Queen of bloody Australia. And when New Zealand swim coach, Duncan Lang was similarly honored she was the Queen of New Zealand.

She may live for most of the year in central London, Windsor and the North of Scotland, but when she does constitutional duties for New Zealand, Australia and several other Commonwealth nations she is our Queen; not the Queen of England doing some colonial service. Your apology is expected Mr. Lord. Your Queen would expect no less.

I do not want to get Swimwatch bogged down in the dull dust of constitutional theory, except to explain that in New Zealand the Queen Lord refers to in Swimnews, has the official title of;

Elizabeth the Second, By the Grace of God, Queen of New Zealand and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”

In Australia, when she approved Don Talbot’s award the Queen was;

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.”

It’s no wonder the American colonies went to war to get rid of the English. Guys like Lord must have driven them mad. We probably should have done the same thing. I see the Scots are doing their best to get rid of the English too; and all power to them. The Queen is a great constitution base on which to found a democracy. I don’t know how often the Queen reads Swimnews but if she does she must feel embarrassed about the behavior of a least one of her English subjects.