There are new and random things happening every day with music, as with any meandering stream in life. The other day I was advised that my bid to sing at the Mayor’s Christmas Carols in Ipswich (2012) was too late to be accepted, but the consolation I received was just as good. I had sent the Mayor a copy of my first CD and a letter expressing my love for our city and my self appointed role as ambassador, as I roam the great state of QLD telling all and sundry tales of the little city.
The mayor of Ipswich may have just been being polite, but I take this as my official Ambassadorial Certificate.
Paul sent me back the above letter, along with a very fancy ‘City of Ipswich’ pen and a pin featuring the Australian and Ipswich flags (undoubtedly these are the tokens of my office). I draw your attention to the final line where the mayor says, “Thanks so much for your role as an Ipswich ambassador.” Aha! Official recognition.
My wife is now worried that I’m going to spend the rest of my life telling this story, and end up as one of those strange old men who wanders into shops saying “See this badge? Know what it means? ” and proceeding with a long and rambling tale that no one really follows as they nod politely .
So what next for an Ipswich ambassador? What does a civic ambassador even do? Being self appointed, I suppose the answer is, whatever it is I do already–travel around the country side singing songs and making merry, all the while telling people that it’s ok to say you’re from Ipswich. It’s not a suburban extension of Brisbane–it is a proud and independent region of it’s own.
Growing up in Ipswich, or anywhere nearby to a Capital city, for that matter, you inevitably put up with the sneering uppitty jeers of people from the Capital city. Sydney has it’s Parramatta and Melbourne it’s Geelong, but in QLD the underdog is Ipswich. It would be unfair of me not to give Logan a mention too–as it cops the same sort of criticism from Brisbanites as the ugly duckling of Ipswich. And it is an ugly duckling.
The official emblems of a Civic Ambassador
Our river is extra muddy, and haunted by bull-sharks and catfish; our buildings are a collection of every passing architectural fad from the past 160 years, and when I was a kid, you didn’t look out of place when you walked barefoot down the main street. But Ipswich is honest–not full of itself, and when property prices in Brisbane became just plain ridiculous, Ipswich became an opportunity for building a future for many young home-owners, so it has really gone through a renewal over the last couple of decades.
“Why would anyone want to live in Ipswich?” I remember being asked, when I was a young builder’s labourer roaming Greater Brisbane, telling my workmates over a shovel that I aspired to save up and buy a house in Ipswich. I have a fierce loyalty to the place. There may be a grinning Brisbane carpenter buried somewhere in Gordon Park. He underestimated the worth of the humble city. I’ve found people all over the state of QLD who hale from Ipswich, and most of them are living in subterfuge, telling people they are from Brisbane. Have a little confidence in your roots, I say. Even if it was still the poorer sibling of an overly confident capital, I’d gladly shake hands with any stranger I meet and say, “G’day, I’m Joel Camille, and I’m from Ipswich.”