“Communism couldn’t last but it wasn’t all bad was it? And they did some good things didn’t they?” my companion mused. It sounded reasonable at the time so I agreed without quite knowing why. Then she asked:
“So what were some of the good things the Communists did in Australia?”
I advised her to ask the experts but she only wanted to know what ‘ordinary’ Australians thought.
After an embarrassed silence I had a Eureka moment and explained that Australian Communists were among the first to support Aboriginal rights. My newfound connoisseurship was soon deflated when she prompted in amazement:
“Yes of course! But wasn’t there anything ELSE...???”.
Feeling as if the glare of every searchlight on Death Strip would expose my ignorance I feigned the excuse of not having drunk enough coffee. A while later we fell about laughing after stumbling across a larger than life public statue of Lenin, Marx and Engels – totally taboo in our countries. She dared me to clamber up the pedestal and pose with them while she took a photo. So I hammed it up with one arm around Lenin and the other punching the air. A bemused German stopped to comment:
“Ah, so I see here we have the last Communist.”
Finally I was an expert.