An extract from the book 40 Strange Groups

This group based in Melbourne in Australia meets on a weekly basis, usually on a Friday night, to drink wine and to complain about the world and all its problems. No cheese is ever served at their meetings and no one can complain about this or they will be banned for life from the group. The complaining is in the form of 5 – 7 minute prepared speeches, similar to a Toastmasters meeting, though there are no evaluations. After each speech there is a 15-minute discussion period where arguments and counter-arguments can be provided against the complaint provided in the speech.

The chairman, Michael Ponting, describes a typical meeting like this: “We get together at the tennis club around 7:30 pm and have a few drinks before the first speech at 8. This is usually on some aboriginal topic or someone is complaining about the Lebs getting preferential treatment. Then there’s normally an environmental speech such as not using the coal deposits in Queensland, which gets people riled, and then the place is rocking when the next speaker is on. They usually are a Republican who wants the Queen replaced as head of state by a kangaroo or some such and then the last speech is normally fairly incoherent – could be about gay rights, the state of the roads, or the declining numbers of koalas in the Olgas – at least I think that’s what the bloke was saying.”

Ponting continued “The most popular topics for complaint are the state of The Great Barrier Reef and the possibility of changing the flag from the current one, showing the Union flag, to a new one featuring the Southern Cross and some indigenous flora and fauna. The main problem is agreeing on the fauna – kangaroos or wallabies, koalas or kookaburras? No one can ever decide and it’s rather difficult to put to a vote without knowing the design of the flag and where the animal(s) would appear.”