Hello! Or, as they say here in Luxembourg, allo! (The language takes a bit of getting used to!).
Crikey has asked me to write a bit about my new life, and so from now I’ll be filing occasional updates from Europe’s largest microstate, or smallest nation-state. (Take your pick!)
Ah, Luxembourg, what can one say? Nestled between huge behemoths like Belgium and the Netherlands, an independent state since the tenth century, the little country that can is these days an important source of European governance, chocolates and Moselle, a wine whose revival on the Australian palate is on the top of my agenda. (And which never really went away amongst the Liberal Party branch rank and file, you’ll be surprised to learn!)
I still remember the day when, beaming with pride, I stood beside Kim Beazley, while the Prime Minister announced that Kim would be going to represent us in the richest most powerful country in the world, and I would be going to the “gateway to Franconia”.
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I think some people had some doubts about the sincerity of the PM’s commitment to bipartisanism before that moment. There can be none now.
From the moment I arrived in the country’s glittering capital Luxembourg City — or as the locals call it, “City” — I determined that I would be the best representative to this onetime forest fortress that Australia has ever had. On my first morning I set out from my hotel at 9.30am to get to know this place and its people, backwards, forwards and sideways.
At 11.30am I returned to my hotel and watched an episode of Two and a Half Men (Drei Mannen und ein kinder!) on German cable. Mission accomplished.
There are some people who would suggest that the landlocked sixth smallest country in Europe is, and I quote, not worth a sparrow fart — people who forget the lessons of the Burgundy succession crisis of 1437. Indeed Kevin quietly informed me that he had wondered if I was up to challenge, and whether I should not be started on a learner country like San Marino or the Hutt River Province. But damn I said, I want this job. These 2000 square miles of subsidised agriculture are mine!
Don’t let anyone tell you that Brendan Nelson doesn’t know Luxembourg, or its culture. This is the country that gave us painters such as Gust Graas, Fony Thissen and Emile Kirscht. Phew! Don’t stand in front of me when you say that! My Lettzesburgish is still rusty, and I’m spraying as would the wind of the country’s North Sea coast if it had one.
And of course Brian Molko, guitarist of Placebo, grew up in the “Albania of Western Europe” — and you can clearly hear the influences in their work!
Luxembourg has given the world much. It has much still to give. I intend to make sure that every Luxembourgouis knows about Australia, even if I have to visit them personally, even if that takes me until February next year.
And so, until next time, this is Brendan Nelson, raising a glass of Moselle — it’s either that or a diabetic left his urine sample on the table — and saying “cheers”! Or as we say in Luxembourg, “cheers”!
*This is not the real Brendan Nelson. Then again neither is Brendan Nelson.