Because Princess Mary is a native of Tasmania, the Danish royal family have been reclassified as Australian by default. Therefore, any issue from her marriage to Prince Frederick is an extension of the Australian nation and, as such, is entitled to be showered with gifts. It should be noted, though, should the young Prince grow up to be a reprobate, the scorn heaped upon him will be equally as generous.
Amongst the gifts of soft toys and knitted items bestowed by rank and file Australians were the official gifts from the various governments. The Federal government presented the happy couple with a first edition of May Gibbs' Snugglepot And Cuddlepie, a well known icon of Australian children's literature. Not a bad gift in itself, although I do shudder at the mental image of the cover being used as a teething rusk. The Tasmanian goverment gave them a pair of Tasmanian devils, though I can't see the young Prince playing with them in the backyard; they're liable to eat his fingers off.
This brings us to the Victorian government's proffering. Somebody obviously gave a great deal of thought to the question; "What do you give a Prince who has everything?", and Bracksie must have been impressed with the answer when it was whispered in his ear. (Steve Bracks is Premier of Victoria, equivalent of a Governor in the U.S. However, less inclined to kiss babies) The decision was made to give the proud parents a Melbourne tram, similar to the one pictured above, but a lot cleaner.
In our household - as in many others around the State, I suspect - bottom jaws fell open when they heard the news. The immediate response was, naturally, what the hell is the kid going to do with a tram? Isn't it a bit big? Certainly too big to pick up and suck on. And where on earth are they going to put it? It's going to need one hell of a toy box. And you could understand the Prince's reluctance to put away his toys when told by his mother.
Copenhagen has a tram system of its own, so I suppose the tram will be placed in a special area, and brought out for special occasions; trips to the seaside, the zoo, that sort of thing. But, what about when the Prince turns eighteen. I can just see him and thirty or so of his closest friends, in a mood to party, terrorising motorists around the city on a Saturday night.
All this is moot, though. The day after they announced the gift of the tram, the Victorian government qualified their statement by announcing that the Tram was, in fact, a belated wedding present for Mary and Frederick. The reason it took so long was the vehichle had to be refurbished and made to look as authentic as possible. The cynic inside of me, who is always jumping up and down trying to attract attention, wonders whether the Bracks Mob didn't hold off on announcing their gift until the birth of the Prince in order to save on cost. A two-gifts-in-one kind of deal.
Still, putting all that aside, if this tram was to be truly authentic, a few items had to be included;
- An automated ticket machine that doesn't work ninety-five percent of the time. When, and if, it is working, the instructions for purchasing a ticket are to be incrompehensible to all except, perhaps, computer language writers.
- A total absence of any display of route information (zones, etc.) that may enable passengers, who have been able to interpret ticket purchasing instructions, to determine exactly how much they are required to pay.
- A group of three or more fifteen-year-old school girls who constantly laugh and squeal at excrutiating decibel levels.
- An old man who stands directly in front of, or right beside, the ticket machine, singing opera badly and reeking of urine.
- A roving band of ticket inspectors with a propensity for beating up on miscreant travellers.
- A passenger, male or female, who places their bags of shopping on the vacant seat next to them, then refuses to remove it for anybody who hints they would like to sit down, too.
- A driver who is totally oblivious to everything except the warning bell for the next stop.
What about a conductor, I hear you ask? That would be considered an optional extra, and is sold separately.
I hope the happy couple enjoy their wedding present. I guess they don't really have any choice. It's not like they can take it to the op shop if they decide they don't really want it.