In his movie Born On The Fourth Of July, Tom Cruise plays Ron Kovic, a disabled Vietnam vet who campaigns against the war. But, folks, his patriotism is not to be doubted, because – with that trademark subtlety for which the American cinema is justly renowned – he was born on Independence Day. If he were Born On The Fourteenth of July, Bastille Day, by contrast, he’d be one of those cheese-eating surrender monkey fellows we hear about, and not to be trusted.
I mention this to show that birthdays are important as an indicator of national fidelity. I mention that because I myself was born on Australia Day. And sure, Born On The Twenty-Sixth Of January doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but it doesn’t matter – the important thing is that this fact makes me indisputably an Aussie Legend. You’ll hear about it when I run for Prime Minister.
Heroes like myself often face sceptics – it was the same for Kovic. Well, I’m not the only person who thinks I’m special because of my birthday. There’s even a special club for people like me called the 26ers club. And you can’t join unless you’re one of the lucky one in 365 of us who share an Invasion Day nativity, so there.
Unfortunately, the club is run by the Victorian Australia Day Council, so I’ve never actually attended one of its events. But according to its website, “Members receive a card and badge annually, and are invited to participate in the Melbourne events, including a birthday cake cutting ceremony.” That’s right, we’re talking about publicly funded birthday cake. Told you it was special.
The 26ers desperately needs a Sydney chapter, but unfortunately I don’t know anyone else privileged enough to share my birthday. Let me know if you do, and we can organise an annual get-together to lord it over everyone else at the taxpayers’ expense. You may even be given the chance to campaign for me.
This was a particularly poignant birthday for me, not just because it was the first one I celebrated as the member of an exclusive club, but because it was my thirtieth. I felt some trepidation about the end of my twenties, but so many people told me that “30 is the new 20” that by the time the day came around, I no longer cared. It worked so well, in fact, I am now trying to deal with another of my irritating signs of aging by promoting the idea that “thinning hair is the new thick”. You heard it here first.
Besides, I figure you’re only as mature as you act, so I’m safe for a good while yet. My only real concern is that there’s any truth in the somewhat desperate-sounding cliché that “life begins at 40”. If that’s true, I’m in for one heck of a dull decade.
But one’s thirtieth birthday is a major landmark, a time to reflect on where you’re at with your life, and where you’d like to be in another decade. So here goes. Life to date? Awesome. Potential areas of improvement? Nil. Mmm, that was rewarding.
So, where will I be by the time I’m 40? Well, as it happens I’ve already worked that out. By 2017, The Glebe will be the bestselling national daily newspaper in Australia, driven to the top position by this column, which will appear exclusively on its cover every day. Pages 2-9 will contain a selection of greatest hits from my earlier column-writing career, which will also break Harry Potter 15’s holo-book sale. Pages 10-13 will contain news about me and my wife, Lara Bingle (after all, she likes the stars), also doubling as the social pages. The rest of the newspaper will follow.
Newspapers are a one-way medium, of course. That’s why I like them. So rather than waiting for you to wish me a happy birthday, I will take the liberty of wishing myself one on your behalf. Thanks, that’s very kind of you.
Dominic would like to advise readers that gifts will be gratefully received care of The Glebe office. Please ask those delivering large objects (cars, etc) to ring in advance – our storeroom may already be full of birthday presents. Please include a return address so he can send a personalised thankyou note, or in case your gift isn’t good enough.