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– by Lucy Nelson

Canberra is no stranger to being insulted. Countless people who came here once for a school excursion to see parliament house when they were eleven are constantly saying things like:

  • Canberra’s a shit hole.
  • There are too many roundabouts and politicians.
  • You used to be able to buy fireworks there. But you can’t anymore.

But on Thursday night, Canberra prepared for a right royal roasting by the people who know it best (those who were forced to move here because of their job, their lover or their Arts/Law degree) and braced itself for the delivery of some lesser-known and better-researched insults.

For example, the price of stuff skyrockets when parliament is sitting (particularly taxis and dry cleaning). How is it that almost all decent live music venues in Canberra shut down, but pop-pumping meat market Moosheads literally burned to the ground and has now returned STRONGER THAN EVER? The combination of there being so much fog in winter, and so much parkland surrounding suburbia, means that the odds of hitting a kangaroo on the way to work are uncomfortably high.

Political correspondent Karen Middleton outsourced the job of insult-gathering to her facebook friends. She had a packed Smith bookshop in stitches with her long list of gripes – both familiar and surprising. Has anyone else heard of Limestone Lizzie? Look. Into it.

On moving to Canberra, Julia Holman from Triple J’s Hack was initially charmed by the fully-fledged winters, but has since developed a case of cold urticaria (a potentially dangerous allergy to the cold) and, rightly, accuses the city of trying to kill her.

An earnest Yolande Norris, writer and festival curator says the capital has a “wrecking ball addiction”. She pleads with the city to be patient, stop defining its arts precincts before they’ve had a chance to breathe. Let them find their feet and enjoy a natural, gradual sprawl.

Speakers also included Minister for Territory and Municipal Services Shane Rattenbury (admits there was not enough food at the Centenary celebration), executive director of the YWCA Rebecca Vassarotti (sick of early-morning flights getting cancelled due to fog – even in summer) and local band Jason Recliner (invites the audience to join in the catchy chorus of ‘Canberra you suck’).

Acerbic and entertaining? Yes. A roast? Not so much. It was really more of an affectionate grilling.

LucyLucy is co-founder of the Canberra chapter of global dance community No Lights No Lycra. She blogs here: http://nlnlcanberra.blogspot.com.au/ and tweets here: @fings_wat_R_tru

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