Field Guide to the Overtly Capable Australian Male (OCAM)

One thing I am already heartily sick of over here has nothing to do with the Solomon Islands and everything to do with the kind of Australian male that is attracted to the place. There must be something about the idea of a mission, to a potentially dangerous country, involving police and the armed forces, that really attracts these guys. It’s such a great opportunity for them to prove themselves and make sure everyone around them knows how capable they are. As though the very act of being here were an assertion of their competence, which is utterly daft because it really isn’t that difficult to live here.

So I thought I would provide you a field guide to the Overtly Capable Australian Male in Honiara. This isn’t as exaggerated as you might hope.

Spotting in the Wild:  That’s easy. About one in every three or four Australian guys in Honiara is like this. They are mostly in their early fourties to mid-fifties, slightly to very overweight, and wear horrible shorts, something that exposes their greying chest hair, reflector sunglasses and gold jewlery. They drive enormous 4Wds with no-one else in them, and when on foot they look around them as though they were peacekeepers searching out enemy forces in Baghdad.  

Contact: When trapped in conversation with one of these fellows, remember that he wants you to act as though you are actually addressing James Bond. In fact, he’s probably a logistics expert, or someone with a job in the police force that never involved actually doing any police work. But boy, is he cut out for this wild adventure. You can irritate him very easily by failing to give him the appropriate level of awe and respect, or by attempting to tell him about any of your own activities, even if it reading a book. Consequently, it is best to avoid him. That’s what everyone else does.     

Commonly Used Phrases:

“Tapping into your local network” = bullying the housegirl into getting you cheap food

“Really getting down at street level” = walking back to the hotel 

“Living here for quite a while now” = living here for six months  

Sample Conversation:

O.C. Aust. Male: “We made it out to a little place called Visale. Road was rough as guts but we made it through…you really have to watch yourself out there, mate. It’s basic. Nothing like the Lime Lounge, I’m telling ya” (the Lime Lounge is the cushy expat coffee shop).

Me: “Yeah. We went there and had a picnic recently. It’s nice.”

O. C. Aust. Male: “No but…(he searches around in his mind for a way to disagree with this)…Well, anyway, you should watch out after coming back from a place like that. Always remember to, um…put Betadine on any cuts you might get. They can get infected…”   

Me: “Uh, Yeah” (thinks…’oh, not another one…’). “I have to go to the toilet.”

I return to strike up conversation with the interesting Irish lady doing a marine biology survey in the far flung provinces, and notice him later attempting the same conversation on someone else. It’s what he’s here for.  

Subspecies: ‘shipwreck’ (location – yacht club).

Not to be confused with: Actual police or military personnel. These are much fitter, far less tedious, and have a habit of playing down the danger of any situation they have been in..even though quite a few actually have been to Iraq. 

Seriously: Another distinguishing feature of the OCAM, sadly, is the pervading sense of desperate loneliness that hangs about them. A lot of them have no families over here, or at all, and I think they spend much of their time alone at home or drinking at the hotels.  The new RAMSI policy of bringing over people with families rather than single guys certainly makes a lot of sense, I think.  

Anyway I have to go get Erin from Kindergardten. It will be tough, but I’ll make it through. I’m just that kind of guy…

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3 thoughts on “Field Guide to the Overtly Capable Australian Male (OCAM)

  1. Mary McKenzie says:

    From John McK.
    Oh dear. We seem to be getting almost as horrible as the Americans abroad, don’t we? I blame John Howard, of course, for turning such a lot of us into slightly under-par Rambos. I do hope your expedition to pick up Erin didn’t turn into a life-threatening occasion – but yuou could, of course, always call on the nearest poor man’s 007 for a spot of super-violent assistance hasd it done so.
    I sympathise about the food: I remember getting all sorts of weird cravings when I first went to London in the mid-sixties. My landlady was probably the worst cook in the history of the human race – specialising in slightly raw chicken covered in what was supposed to be parsley sauce but which was, in fact, a dollop of dumpling-like material with a few despondent leaves buried away in it. As a result I didn’t eat very much in lodgings, and as a further result I developed a mania for things like Rocky Road and batrtered savs. Could you let us know, in due course, what you would like as a treat while you are here? Mary makes a marvellous field mushroom curry, for example.
    We are off to the Blue Mountains on Thursday morning and will be back home on the following Tuesday. Rowie has had a bath preparatory to staying with Rocky and smells like jasmine oatmeal: which is nice for us but which I think makes him self-conscious. We have managed to get him another bout with Rocky while you are here – which should make things much easier for all of us.
    We are looking forward to see ing you and Lou and the kids again. Was MOST IMPRESSED to learn that Codes is now a swimmer! What a hero. I hope the usual Semaphore carnival will be on while you are here, so we can take them both to the foreshore and let them run wild on the Dragon Train and other sick-making delights. Tell Codes that I have his Rite of Spring and will give it to him when we see him; and there will, of course, be a treat for our beloved Erin too.
    Cheers and much love to you all.

  2. hi dad nice to hear fom you codes is already pretty psyched by the idea of coming over and the dragon train has recently topped it off…btw i made it to the kindy and back wth no fatalities. field mushrom and yoghurt curry with wholemeal bread and witlof sounds scrumptious. bye love s.

  3. kirsty says:

    hi all
    i laughed lots at your description of the OCAM. we know a guy called mal who would fit right in. he once gave me a headache because he was so boring talking about himself and how cool and important he was.
    Im looking forward to seeing you guys. I notice that cody has had his hair cut but olivia still has less hair than him. sweet!!
    love kirst
    ps i have nearly finished my first assignment – a 1500 word first year pyschology assignment. it is hard writing only 1500 words!!

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