Celebrating colourful characters that represent a country.
As we wind down for another year – or is that keep the foot flat down on the loud pedal and wonder why everyone is so worn out – I thought it would be in good spirit to write my final article for 2022 about something light-hearted yet sentimental, humorous yet not a laughing matter…I’m talking about the people we regard as national treasures.
National treasures can be about an object or an institution, but here I’m specifically talking about public figures that have come to be well-regarded as being emblematic of nation’s cultural heritage or identify. Those who are greatly valued by the people of their chosen country, and even beyond the borders.
National treasures can come from all walks of life; from politicians to professional athletes, from media personalities to musicians. Somehow, these people have captured a nation’s heart, won them over by their deeds, by their character, and we come to celebrate them as if the country itself had birthed them to represent us as a symbol to humanity in some way.
As we are at a point in the year usually categorised by celebration, I thought it would be a good time to mention a few people I feel are national treasures and worthy of adulation.
Australian cricket legend and commentator
April next year will mark eight years since the great man was dismissed after a marvellous innings of 84, and I don’t think we’ve recovered after the loss of the doyen of commentating, the captain of channel nine’s cricket coverage. An exceptional all-round cricketer who arguably became even more famous as a commentator, Richie was the utmost professional in both careers. Richie became the voice of cricket, a well-spoken man with a dry and witty sense of humour who turned “2 for 22” into a household phrase. The master of the cream, the bone, the off-white, the white, the ivory or the beige suit, Richie was a gentleman of the game and an absolute joy to listen to. He was a man who cared greatly for the game as both a player and commentator, with cricket and our Australian summer being poorer without him. Forever immortalised by the comedian “The 12th Man”, Richie Benaud is etched into Australiana folklore.
NBA Legend and Analyst
The Chuckster, much like Richie, has almost become more famous (or is that infamous?) on TV than during his playing days. The former NBA MVP and now current analyst with TNT is a comedic straightshooter, not afraid to ruffle feathers or crack laughs, but you always know he’s being honest even if not the most coherent. Naturally hilarious with an infectious laugh/chuckle/smile, “the round mound of rebound” doesn’t take himself too seriously – not only odd for an American, but for someone who is on TV and a (former) pro athlete – which is a welcomed breath of fresh air. Barkley has always been outspoken/opinionated, not afraid to call out something or someone an idiot or a fool, but is only too quick to poke fun or laugh at himself and his flaws/shortcomings. Charles really is a wholesome dude who is down to earth despite the fame and notoriety. I’ve lost count the number of times Chuck has had me in stitches and if I’m honest I find myself fast-forwarding the games to get to the Inside the NBA on TNT show. The things they get up to on that show, pure entertainment, some of the best TV bar none! Guaranteed!
Motoring journalist/TV presenter turned farmer
We’ve had an Australian, an American, it’s only fair we have a Brit. Jeremy Clarkson, of Top Gear and The Grand Tour fame now moonlighting as a responsible farmer on Clarkson’s Farm, is no shrinking violet. Highly outspoken and opinionated, if there is something Clarkson doesn’t like, you’ll soon hear about it – usually with hilarious results. The Orangutan, as he is affectionately called by his co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond, has a penchant for tip-toeing the line between comedic banter and rattling cages, such is anyone who calls it how they see it (followed by an Oh no! Anyway…). Jeremy has a way of describing things that can both entertain and enrage; with a fondness of torturing metaphors, his genius, by his own words, is almost frightening and can generate gravity. The amount of catchphrases that people now use on a regular basis; How hard can it be? Let’s not get bogged down with who did what to whom, the imminent arrival of a moron, speeeeeeeed!! powerrrrrrrrr!! (and variants of these), for example. Jeremy is a proud Brit and this was best on display in his tribute to the E-Type Jaguar on its 50th birthday, but despite this proudness he’s only too happy to take make fun of his own countrymen.
So, national treasures, a subjective list and yet somehow not. They may have varying degrees of professionalism about them, but there’s always an honesty and authenticity about them. Likeability and a sense of humour go a long way. They have the ability to unite (or divide, sometimes) the people, be a beacon for a collective experience, convey an understanding, forge long-lasting memories, provide a reassuring stability and certainty, plus they can even remind us what makes us fond of these countries. They bring a certain amount of joy to the world and there is no denying that it’s not the same without them.
Who are some of your national treasures?
And on that bombshell, it’s time to end. Thank you very much for reading. Good night! We’ll be back here at QWAN in the new year and I look forward to your company then. In the meantime, come and join me in the steam room (towels on though).